FARMINGTON — If attendance at Wednesday’s public forum hosted by the Farmington Downtown Association is any indication of a positive commitment to its growth and vitality, then the downtown’s future is hopeful.

The forum, “A Strong Downtown: Mapping the Future,” brought out a gathering of over 60 to hear featured speakers recount the successes realized by the town and to hear suggestions during a “community conversation” for moving forward with a “vibrant” downtown.

“Most towns would die for what we have here,” said Alison Hagerstrom, one of four featured speakers.

Hagerstrom went on to recount past “risk-takers” who were rewarded after opening businesses that continue today marking a history that dates back from 20 to over 100 years.

New businesses have filled empty storefronts fairly quickly but consumer trends and needs change requiring attention to stay on top of it, she said.

An analysis of the downtown completed three years ago showed a mix of retail, service and residential areas  with over 100 businesses and 500 people working downtown.

Recounting the appeal of the town’s historic walk that has brought state and national attention, speaker Jan Maxham reminded the gathering of the many of pluses found in town where visitors have stopped at Sugarwood Gallery during the time she has owned it.

Farmington Code Enforcement Officer Steve Kaiser and entrepreneur Bill Marceau spoke about some of the successful projects that have benefited the downtown.

The Farmington Downtown Business Association, a group that has worked for many years to keep the downtown vital and successful including a revitalization project in the 1980s, has become part of a Downtown Network and has developed four subcommittees working on various aspects, said association President Michael Mansir. The enthusiasm and ideas of those committees has grown with the new direction for the group.

The group has also contracted with a Brunswick firm and will begin conducting on-the-street surveys with people in downtown Farmington starting in June.

Those attending offered ideas on a variety of things they would like to see the group think about including more manufacturing jobs to replace those lost, ethnic restaurants, more trees and an effort that gets “everyone working toward the same goal.”

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