Rumford seeking Main Street status


RUMFORD – Linda French has seen how the designation of a Main Street Community helped turn around downtowns when she lived in Connecticut.

Now a resident of Rumford and a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, she believes the same positive, uplifting things could happen in Rumford.

“Becoming a Main Street Community makes it so you don’t have to do everything yourself,” she said Tuesday afternoon.

The Downtown Revitalization Committee gave a tour of the town, its historic sites and its possibilities to Lori Allen on Monday afternoon. Allen is the program director for the Maine Downtown Center, a nonprofit organization and part of the Maine Development Foundation based in Augusta.

Rumford is one of seven towns applying to become a Main Street, Maine Community in 2006, said Lem Cissel, a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee. The name of the winning town will be announced in October.

Towns that succeed share in the Maine Downtown Center’s technical resources and consultants that can help guide a revitalization of a downtown area.

Allen said the chosen town will receive about $50,000 worth of expertise over a three-year period.

Among the things her group looks for in a town are interest, the need for the program, resources to make things happen, and a willingness to hire a downtown manager to guide the revitalization process.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said having such a designation would also boost the town’s chances of receiving of grants to help in the revitalization effort.

Over the years, eight Maine towns have been designated as a Main Street Community. Norway is the closest to Rumford. Others are Waterville, Skowhegan, Van Buren, Gardiner, Eastport, Saco and Bath.

The town has also hired a consultant, Rich Kent Associates of Gardiner, to recommend improvements and changes to the downtown and Waldo Street areas.