Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 17, 2013
Merchants and residents share their views
by Anne Berleant
The Castine Patriot recently held random, informal street interviews with a handful of downtown merchants and citizens. The general question asked was: How should the town approach economic development in Castine?
With one or two exceptions, people were willing to respond. Some asked for time to think before answering, while others replied quickly. Town officials and Community and Economic Development committee members were not included in the random sample. All of the merchants interviewed reported that their businesses neither increased or decreased compared to last year, although one Realtor noted an increase in summer rental inventory, but not in summer renters.
Here are the results.
Goody B. Wiseman, nonresident business owner, Tarratine Gallery, Main Street:
“As a person who wants to make a home here, I would say that the town is absolutely perfect except for the diminishing diversity of class and age [of residents].
“The town has everything it needs. When I think about marching forward with economic development, I think ‘Do no harm.’”
Paul Gray, year-round resident:
“I think the downtown will come back when the economy is back, the way it’s been for 200 years. [To actively pursue economic development is] just throwing good money after bad.”
Lisa Haugen, Saltmeadow Properties, Main Street, year-round resident:
“The waterfront should be more of a focus on promoting the town to the yachtsmen and mariner community.”
Karen Koos, Saltmeadow Properties, Main Street, year-round resident:
“I’d like to see us promote the lighthouse because we do own it as a community. We could have events that involve the lighthouse and bring more people to Castine. We need to promote what we have.”
Bruce Rogers, seasonal nonresident taxpayer:
“It would certainly be nice for the entrepreneurs here to make the choice. All the zoning will only set the parameters. If there’s not enough business, all the zoning changes [won’t spur economic development]. Zoning changes put the cart before the horse.”
Sharon Biggie, year-round resident and owner, Compass Rose Bookstore, Main Street:
“The people who have been drawn [here this summer] seem to be related to activity the CED has promoted. There seems to be enthusiasm in the people who come. I think that the kinds of programs that try to incorporate the whole community in participation, like Waterfront Wednesdays, [should continue]. I’m hopeful for the future.”
Julia Cooper, year-round resident:
“I just want everyone to stop fighting and let everyone do what they want with their own property.”
Cheryl Ashmore, year-round resident:
“I think the town and residents should look first towards local contractors [for local projects], then go out of town.”
Alyssa Radcliff, new year-round resident:
“I would say more shops, more basic things you could get downtown. It’s nice that everything is so close but there’s just not that much here. It would be nice if there were more [employment] choices here, not just the academy.”