Before the 2012 Comprehensive Plan, there was the 2007 Downtown Revitalization Study, the 2002 Riverfront Master Plan and the 2001 Downtown Development Plan. Once all robust plans and dreams, they were envisioned and created by many still in our midst today. But mostly they were forgotten, became dusty and were all tucked away.
Don’t look now, Westbrook – but those plans are all coming to fruition.
Cumberland and Bridge streets bridge rehabilitations and streetscaping. Creation and maturing of a National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street America program, which in starting its 3rd year. The Downtown Westbrook Coalition is becoming a 501c3 and capturing the attention of the Maine Development Foundation and other Maine downtown networks. A historic agreement and compromise between the City of Westbrook, Sappi, and several critical third-party interest groups – to help further rehabilitate one of the most-industrialized rivers of America’s past. Potential massive upgrades to the hidden crown jewel of Westbrook’s downtown recreational heartbeat – the Cornelia Warren Outdoor Recreation Area. The renewed focus on a downtown Riverwalk Loop vision, with a focus on history, fitness and connectivity. Connectivity to our past, our surroundings, to Westbrook’s future, and – most importantly – to each other.
I would be remiss in not thanking each and every Westbrook citizen, business and organization which came together as a community to take the recent Warren Outdoor Rec survey, maintain the enthusiasm, or write a letter of support for possible federal funding towards a key piece of our downtown’s puzzle and future. It is nothing short of amazing to see what can be accomplished when so many work together towards a common and united goal – a prosperous and renewed Westbrook.
Westbrook is not perfect nor will ever be, and will always have critical issues to address and new challenges to face. Even with this realistic and conscious view, it is hard not to be excited at the transformation of Westbrook’s core, much of which is coming together in near-simultaneity. A river renewed, a downtown restored, businesses re-imagined and a community refocused.
If you are not excited about the future of this city, please attend the next business grand-opening, talk to a city leader, or ask someone from a similar-sized city in New England what they think their city’s future will be five or 10 years from now.
As the city undergoes an important change in leadership over these next few months, let us all remember where this city was 10 years ago and how far we’ve come. A special thank you to outgoing Mayor Colleen Hilton,and Council Vice President Michael Foley for their passionate servant leadership over so many years.
For years, everyone has talked about the potential of Westbrook – and like Newton’s laws and conservation of energy – that energy is now being rapidly transformed. Westbrook is becoming kinetic. Westbrook is in motion.
Phil Spiller Jr. is a resident of Westbrook.