City planners take mission to conserve and protect seriously

15 years ago

IN THE CITY

by   Ken Arndt

    The city of Presque Isle’s Planning and Development Department has worked diligently throughout 2009 to improve and enhance growth opportunities, while at the same time conserving and protecting our community’s valuable natural and cultural resources. 

    Consistent with the City’s 2007 comprehensive plan, we have proceeded with activities focused upon:
• Maintaining our community’s rural identity and character;
• Discouraging strip development of all types along roadways entering into our community;
• Revitalizing the community’s downtown, as the “Heart of the Community”; and
• Enhancing and conserving prime agricultural lands and the visual appeal of our community.
    Specifically, the Planning & Development Department has prepared, and the City has adopted, a “Source Water Protection District” south of the Reach Rd. designed to protect the city’s and McCain Foods unique drinking water aquifer, similarly, we have worked with local partners and groups to limit, but encourage the siting of wind energy systems within our city. Our Departmental staff has successfully secured grant funding for ongoing downtown revitalization efforts focused upon the revitalization the Riverside Drive development parcels in hopes of encouraging major commercial investments in that area and also improving that area’s important public parking. We’ve worked on and succeeded in getting a “Project Canopy” grant for new tree plantings along Main Street.
    Our staff was involved in the review of several “new” commercial growth projects for NorState Credit Union, Tractor Supply and the Hampton Inn and we hired a private consulting engineering firm to evaluate the Echo Lake sewer system to help determine what improvements are necessary out there to make that small, public sewage disposal system more functional, so that it protects the lake’s critical water quality. New shoreland zoning regulations, designed to protect shore wading bird habitats, will be adopted in the spring of 2010 further protecting our valuable riverine resources, and our Planning & Development staff has monitored and provided input and recommendations for improvement to the proposed easterly by-pass which has been considered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Transportation.
    The Planning and Development Department staff has also provided direction, support and coordination to the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee’s substantial and ongoing efforts to enhance and draw excitement and new investment into our city’s business center. A branding logo was developed for downtown and voted upon by the community; gateway signage has been designed and will appear at the four entryways into our city by the spring of 2010. To compliment and further support the downtown revitalization efforts, the city has invested real dollars into the Wintergreen Arts Center’s project in the former R.W. Wight building, their new home! It has been an exciting and challenging year for us and we are proud of how these activities are impacting the growth and development of our community.
    Our city is very fortunate to have dedicated and thoughtful volunteers, who serve on our community’s Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee and the Presque Isle Development Fund Board of Trustees. These folks are an important component to the planning and economic development review and approval process here in Presque Isle. If you have interest in being involved in how our community grows and developments, consider serving as a volunteer.
    We “thank you”, the residents and taxpayers of Presque Isle, for your input into the public deliberations leading up to the implementation of all of these diverse activities! These are not easy or simple initiatives and decisions being made about our future, but take careful thought and persistence to achieve the desired outcome. Presque Isle remains a great place to live, visit or raise a family, we are striving to keep it comfortable, but growth-oriented so that our children can choose to live here, start their own traditions.
    Ken Arndt is director of planning and development for the city of Presque Isle. He can be reached at 764-2527 or via e-mail at karndt@presqueisleme.us