PARIS — Town officials have scheduled a meeting next week for residents to give input on the future of the downtown area.

Residents are asked to attend a public hearing at 6;30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, in the Town Office to offer suggestions for an ongoing study that will eventually be compiled into a strategic plan for Market Square. 

The meeting is a continuation of efforts to implement residents’ vision of downtown. The plan spans an area roughly bounded by the bridge over the Little Androscoggin River, to Moore Park and the McLaughlin Garden.

In May, selectmen authorized Sandy Swett, a local business owner, to begin surveying residents, business owners, civic organizations and other prominent community groups. She would synthesize their responses with data on the capacity of buildings and demographics of the town into a comprehensive guideline that will direct development. That work, which Swett began in June, is expected to be completed later this fall. 

Impetus for the study began last summer, when a group of business owners around Market Square formed the South Paris Revitalization Forum to discuss ways to attract more commerce in downtown. One of the major driving forces behind the formation was to find a way to alleviate the tax burden on individuals, which increased 20 percent for property owners in 2013, and to beautify the town. 

Swett has said previously that the final recommendations made in the strategic plan will depend upon her interviews with community members. Already, that work has included business and education leaders. 

Work on the project has been delayed by summer vacation schedules, however Swett expects the project to be finished sometime around the end of September. 

Town Manager Amy Bernard said she hopes to schedule another public hearing before the plan is finalized. 


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