NORWAY – Four state and national experts on downtown revitalization met with local leaders this week.

The three days of interviews, tours and meetings ended Thursday when they presented their findings to the board of directors of Norway Downtown Revitalization.

It was an opportunity for the board to hear an objective analysis of the downtown’s assets and challenges, as they chart a course for redevelopment of downtown Main Street, said the board’s president Ken Morse of Grassroots Graphics.

The services were provided by the Maine Downtown Center as a benefit of participating in the Maine Downtown Center’s Main Street Maine program, a project of the Maine Development Foundation.

Downtown Center Coordinator Darcy Rollins said Thursday she and others were struck by a common theme in talking to local people.

“What they love about Norway is that it is unique and genuine,” she said. “Obviously it’s not all peaches and roses,” she added, but such a caring attitude is important to any revitalization effort.

She said the team was impressed by the natural resources the area has, and the high interest in culture and the arts.

The challenges the downtown faces are not unique to Norway, she added, pointing to the negative downtown impact caused by strip development.

“There’s a lot on the plate of this group,” she added, as it moves forward with the national Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization as developed by the National Main Street Center.

The national center, a program of the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation, has helped more than 1,500 communities revitalize their downtowns, and has been touted as one of the most successful economic development programs in the nation, she said. It stresses a “comprehensive, incremental approach” to redevelopment.

The team of experts consisted of Bob Donohue, principal planner with Oakland County, Mich. Planning and Economic Development Services; Mike Provost, executive director of a successful redevelopment program in Jaffrey, N.H.; Craig Freshley, independent redevelopment consultant of Brunswick; and a representative from Barba Architecture & Consulting in Portland.


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