Public input sought on downtown’s future

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FARMINGTON — Seeking good information about what people think of the present downtown Farmington and what’s wanted for the future, the Farmington Downtown Association is hosting a public forum and invites everyone to take part.

The forum, “A Strong Downtown: Mapping the Future,” takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, in the North Dining Hall at the University of Maine at Farmington’s Olsen Student Center.

Along with participating in a “community conversation” about the downtown area, the Association will share information about plans to conduct surveys along with discussing the challenges and strengths of downtown Farmington, said Michael Mansir, president of the group.

“To devise a plan, we need information. People’s perception of downtown Farmington, good or bad, and what they would like for retail businesses so when there is a vacancy, we can be proactive to bring what people would like to have here,” he said.

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The information could also help the business as they’ll come in to a market where they are wanted, he added.

The Association has contracted with Good Group Decisions of Brunswick with plans to do short surveys with people downtown. The Brunswick group has conducted an inventory of parking availability downtown and plans to begin “intercept surveys” or face to face surveys with people on the street. The surveys, which take a few minutes, explore questions like what the person is looking for, what they like about parking and what they would like to see in Farmington that isn’t already there, he said.

Information about parking trends will soon be taken during different times of the day to mark the use of spots throughout the day. The company will compile the information Association will have good information and a better understanding of Farmington with hopes to give direction for the future of the downtown area, he said.

More information about the surveys expected to be done each season will be explained during Wednesday’s forum. Local businesses contributed to sponsor the surveys.

Guest speakers include Art Perry, Alison Hagerstrom, Steve Kaiser, Jan Maxham and Bill Marceau.

“We all know how valuable our downtown is to residents. This is the opportunity for everyone to play a role in shaping its future,” Mansir said while encouraging business and property owners, community leaders and residents to come listen, question and comment during this open conversation about the present and future of downtown.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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