PARIS — A second public hearing Wednesday night revealed more ideas to improve the economy and aesthetics of the downtown area.

The town contracted business owner Sandy Swett to complete a study on ways to promote and develop Market Square to attract businesses and tourists.

Swett has explained that the downtown — “the nucleus” —  has to be reinvigorated by improving pedestrian access, art and entertainment, and connecting it to walking trails. 

The scope of the plan roughly extends from the Billings Dam on East Main Street through downtown to Moore Park at High Street and Route 26 and to the train tracks near the McLaughlin Garden & Homestead on Main Street.

Swett, who has been meeting with community groups and residents, said one of the common responses was to highlight walking paths around town, including those along the Little Androscoggin River. 

She said many respondents wanted to find a use for the former Paris Farmers Union building. 

Other ideas included establishing a senior center, celebrating the area’s Finnish-American heritage, building a kiosk with visitor information and maps, decorating with plant pots and encouraging residents to clean up after themselves. 

One idea that resurfaced Wednesday night was using the Paris Utility District’s former office building and property on the foot of Paris Hill Road for a public park.

“That could open up a lot of area for families,” Swett said.  

The strategic plan is required to secure grants for funding in order to fund these projects, she said.

“A quaint little New England town is going to bring people to the area,” she said.

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