Category: Maine

Placemaking, local businesses and the ‘knowledge economy’ at GrowSmart Maine’s annual summit

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On November 20, smart growth advocates and policymakers in Maine convened for our coalition partner GrowSmart Maine‘s annual summit. The conference drew members from across the state for an afternoon focused on the policies, trends, events, and projects that have strengthened Maine’s economy, environment and communities. 

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Celebrating 10 years with GrowSmart Maine

gsm-summit

On Wednesday, November 20, join Smart Growth America’s coalition partner GrowSmart Maine for their 10th anniversary Annual Meeting.

The meeting will bring together smart growth leaders from across the state for an afternoon focused on the policies, trends, events, and projects that have strengthened Maine’s economy, environment and communities.

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Mayor Jonathan LaBonté on building a stronger Auburn, ME

Jonathan LaBonté
Mayor Jonathan LaBonté of Auburn, ME. Image via Facebook.

Mayor Jonathan LaBonté of Auburn, ME is working to help his small city compete economically and grow stronger financially, and he’s using smart growth strategies to achieve both these goals.

Auburn is a city of 23,000 people located 45 minutes north of Portland. LaBonté has served as mayor of the city since 2011, and he’s also a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities.

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Partnership in the News: Portland, Maine and EPA Launch Bikeshare Effort

Portland, Maine has begun to develop a regional bikeshare program thanks to initial technical assistance provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

Portland’s Planning and Urban Development Department applied for EPA’s 2013 grants under the leadership of Jeff Levine. Portland residents, Mr. Levine noticed, already had a strong interest in alternative transportation.

“There’s a big commitment in Portland toward the environment and sustainability,” said Levine. “The challenge is providing an infrastructure that can help people to meet that goal.”

Residents were interested in a bikeshare program, but Portland needed a catalytic event to kick-start the project.

EPA’s workshops and forums, conducted earlier this month, jumpstarted the city’s efforts to implement a bikeshare program. Mr. Levine believes EPA’s time in Maine brought a necessary and “strong focus on the issue”. Residents and local officials  participated in the sessions strategizing how Portland can make a bikeshare program a reality. With the project underway, Portland and the project’s supporters now must develop a business plan for a bikeshare program.

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A workshop helps Eastport, Maine find ways to reduce heating costs

A view of downtown Eastport, ME. Photo by The Indestructible Enforcer via Flickr.

Eastport, Maine is a charming rural community vying for its survival.

An island off Maine’s northern coast, Eastport is actively working to reduce the town’s increasingly substantial winter heating costs. To help in this effort, the community applied for and received a 2012 free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America and Otak, made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

Eastport depends almost entirely on fossil fuels for winter heating, and pays more for them as compared to the rest of the country. And while all of Maine has severe winters and high heating costs, Eastport is a rural community that serves a primarily low-income and older population, making these obstacles even more challenging. The cost of heating has implications for Eastport residents’ disposable income, the region’s economy, and even home foreclosure trends. The city recognized that it needed to find a more sustainable, efficient, and affordable way to heat buildings.

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Smart Growth Stories: A region collaborates in Southern Maine

Balancing development with environmental and economic concerns is one of the biggest challenges facing Southern Maine today.

“Maine has a lot going for it: its sense of place, its scenery, its quality of life,” says Carol Morris, President of Morris Communications and lead consultant for Sustain Southern Maine, a regional partnership of organizations, communities and businesses working to make Maine’s economy, environment and sense of community stronger. “If we lose that, we’ll never get it back, and people understand that, so there’s a fair amount of local support for balancing it all together.”

Sustain Southern Maine is addressing these important challenges with a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to planning. Aided by a Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the partnership is working to make sure development in small, rural communities as well as larger urban areas like Portland – Maine’s biggest city – will benefit the communities and economies of the entire region.

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Partnership in the News: Sustain Southern Maine wins over more residents

On Monday, October 15, Sustain Southern Maine, a recipient of a HUD Regional Planning grant, held an informational meeting in Eliot, Maine to  inform residents of their planning efforts and invite the community to participate. Sustain Southern Maine is a coalition of municipalities, non-profit organizations, and businesses working to generate positive regional development.

In light of the challenges being faced by Southern Maine communities, including lack of quality educational and employment opportunities, limited housing options, dependence on oil for heating homes and motor vehicle transportation, insufficient infrastructure for sewer, water, telecommunications and other services, and lack of services for the elderly, Sustain Southern Maine aims to promote public transportation, affordable housing, economic competitiveness, preservation of local character, and the coordination of land-use policies and investment.

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Northern Maine counties work toward joint regional plan

On paper, the northern Maine counties of Aroostook and Washington have everything it takes to set the stage for economic success and long-term growth: abundant resources, marvelous scenery, natural assets, a population with strong work ethics and a series of small towns with quaint downtowns. Even the frigid winter weather with its abundant snowfall is an advantage, an obvious draw for outdoor sportsmen.

What they haven’t had, though, is the chance to outline a more comprehensive and integrated regional plan, and to envision how working together could leverage their assets and provide the basis for a brighter and more sustainable future.

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