A year ago, on Dec. 1, 2016, I last wrote as a guest commentator here remarking on the acceleration of change in Westbrook.
It’s certainly been a busy year for our community, with the completion of the Bridge Street streetscape and bridge project leading into Vallee Square, and the opening of BreaLu, Jack’s Thai, YES Brewing, the Daily Grind, Bamboo Bistro, Big Fin Poke and Top Kabab just to name a few new businesses. Additionally, the commencement of two major school rehabilitation projects, the hiring of one of the most talented and driven Economic Development directors in the state, and beginnings of a unique project in the former Blue Rock Quarry — which has the potential to be unlike almost anything else in America — has the town abuzz. And has anyone in Westbrook ever seen our downtown so beautiful during the holidays?
And last-but-not-least, in a major step toward ending the nearly-four-decade-long recovery from Urban Renewal, Westbrook achieved full maturation and national accreditation of it’s Main Street America program under the National Trust for Historic Preservation. On Nov. 9, on its third birthday, the Downtown Westbrook Coalition transformed into Discover Downtown Westbrook with its acceptance into the Maine Downtown Center at its “Toast to Main Street” event. In what often takes many years longer, this accomplishment is a true testament to the many volunteers, the citizens of Westbrook and the municipality itself for the incredible support of this group, critical to the full revival of our downtown.
And the kinetics are continuing. Westbrook is about to enter an era of radical collaboration between its working groups, service organizations and volunteer base. With the infusion of Maine Medical’s IT department, a beautiful new gateway to our city via Convenient MD, and a renewed interest in our downtown business core, the heartbeat of our city is no longer in the shadows.
We are not perfect and never shall be, but a shared community vision not seen since in nearly a half century is nearly upon us. Westbrook was once one of the crown jewels in the state of Maine – and don’t look now, but it looks like we’re on our way back.
Phil Spiller Jr.
Vice president, Discover Downtown Westbrook