By redesigning the small park on the corner of Front and Elm Streets, Bath aims to create a designated pedestrian space and draw foot traffic further downtown. (Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record)

BATH — Bath is weighing an overhaul of portions of Front and Elm streets to encourage downtown foot traffic and draw people to underused pedestrian space in the area.

Marc Meyers, Bath’s assistant city manager, said the city hopes to create a designated space for pedestrians and draw foot traffic farther down Front Street beyond the intersection of Elm and Front Streets where the Country Farm furniture store is located.

The city contracted with landscape architecture firm Terrence J. DeWan and Associates to create a design concept for the intersection of Elm and Front streets as well as Front Street between Summer and Elm streets.

According to the initial conceptual design, the Brackett’s Market parking lot is a “visual void” that gives the perception that the downtown ends there, so pedestrians don’t explore further down the road.

To encourage increased pedestrian traffic, the design suggests moving the small park on the corner of Front and Elm streets to the other side of Elm Street, which would make it visible to people walking down Front Street toward Brackett’s Market.

Jessica Kimball, project manager and landscape architect, said she wants to “make the space feel more inviting to pedestrian activity.”

Amanda McDaniel, executive director of Main Street Bath, said the park — home to a few tables and chairs — is, “pristine, but I don’t think people see it because they stop and turn around.

“Bath in itself is full of surprises and that park will encourage further discovery,” McDaniel said. “It’s more a matter of getting people to walk down far enough to see it.”

Regan Reed, owner of Wags and Whiskers across the street from Brackett’s Market, said she has always liked the location of her store because of the parking available at Brackett’s Market, but said more foot traffic would mean increased business.

“It will be helpful to draw attention to this end of town,” said Reed. “It’ll make a big difference to every store in this block.”

Meyers said the project will not reduce the amount of parking along Front and Elm Streets.

Becky Welsh, owner of J’adore Consignment across the street from Brackett’s Market, is looking forward to seeing what the city does to encourage people to continue down Front Street toward her store.

“We need people to continue down the street because this is such a great block with fantastic stores,” said Welsh.

One of the conceptual designs proposed the idea of eliminating the sidewalk along Brackett’s Market because, “people don’t naturally walk there,” according to Kimball.

“If you remove the sidewalk on the Brackett’s Market side of the street, there will be less interaction between cars and pedestrians,” Kimball said.

Similarly, trees along a sidewalk create a physical barrier between cars and pedestrians, which increases safety. Kimball said there are several places with designated places for trees, but the trees have died and need to be replaced.

The conceptual plans also discussed reducing the width of the travel lanes on Elm Street to calm traffic and give more room to pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Safety is of the utmost importance,” said Meyers. “We want to make sure it’s safe for people to visit our city.”

Kimball said concepts will be available on a website for the community to review sometime this fall.

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