Lewiston, Auburn councilors to talk economic development

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AUBURN — City councilors have quite a bit of economic development work ahead of them Monday night.

Auburn councilors will host their Lewiston counterparts at a special joint workshop meeting Monday. Auburn City Manager Clinton Deschene said the meeting is a continuation of the last meeting in October.

“They told us what they wanted to do, and Ed (Barrett, Lewiston city administrator) has been working on this since then and going back and forth,” Deschene said. “These were all suggestions we heard from them.”

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. with an informal gathering. The meeting agenda picks up at 6:15 p.m. The public is invited to attend, but there is no public comment period scheduled Monday night.

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Councilors last met in October to discuss economic development issues.

“We have areas of interest we’ve identified,Now we need to see how they’d like us to move forward.”

One idea that will be discussed is creating a separate downtown agency to promote economic development and growth there. It could involve creating a downtown manager for the two cities or hiring a firm.

“There has been a lot emphasis on downtown development and working together,” Barrett said. “We want to see how that should be pursued and how we could make that happen.”

Both cities have attempted to redirect their focus downtown. Lewiston approved a plan last summer designed to promote development along the Riverfront Island, the area between the Androscoggin River and Lewiston’s canals, from Island Point to Cedar Street. It includes the Bates Mill complex, as well as Simard-Payne Memorial Park, the Franco-American Heritage Center and Museum L-A.

Auburn’s council has discussed work extending the downtown Riverwalk to New Auburn.

“The basic idea would be trying to supporting businesses that are already there, attracting new ones and continuing the residential development that we’ve started to see,” Barrett said.

Another item for councilors to discuss Monday is erecting matching directional and information signs between the cities.

The Androscoggin Land Trust unveiled a proposed design for matching signs for the entire Androscoggin River corridor in October. According to that plan, Lewiston and Auburn would be the first to adopt the signs.

One variety would provide basic travel directions for drivers, pointing the way to downtown attractions or parking. Another variety would contain more detailed information for pedestrians, with directions to restaurants, shopping districts and a map of the downtown.

A final variety would provide historical information about certain spots.

“We are looking to see if there is some amount of commitment there,” Deschene said. “We need to discuss the new branding effort, too. So there are a lot of issues, but they are all economic development related.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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