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Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 30, 2014
Volunteers ask for help, CED replies “yes”
"Promotions people are burned out"

by Anne Berleant

With verbal hugs-and even verbal commitment from some members-the Community and Economic Development Committee responded to a plea for help from the Promotions Subcommittee on January 24.

Without the full support of the CED through attention and actions, we will not do any more promotions,” said Pat Bishop, chairman of the subcommittee, reading from a prepared statement.

The issue is negativity from this group towards [the subcommittee’s] efforts,” said CED member Scott Vogell.

Absolutely,” agreed promotions subcommittee member Sara Leighton.

The Promotions Subcommittee has organized the Waterfront Wednesdays summer concert series, the holiday-time Light Up Castine events in 2012 and 2013, and the Castinopoly game, with physical and planning assistance from former economic development consultant Susan Walsh.

We want to change the viewpoint people have of Castine as closed door and not particularly friendly,” member Sue Macdonald said of the subcommittee’s efforts.

Subcommittee members specifically requested physical help with events from CED members or family and friends of members.

Promotions people are burned out,” said subcommittee member Brooke Tenney.

Rick Armstrong, chairman of the CED committee, explained there are “two different kinds of economic development going on. We feel compelled to look at the long-term stuff.” He specifically referred to “incubator spinoff” businesses from Maine Maritime Academy research and development, and developing a marketing and branding campaign for Castine.

Underneath that, we feel promotions is the first line of economic development,” he said.

Armstrong then threw a motion on the table to “formally support” the promotions subcommittee.

What are we supporting?” Vogell asked, quickly amending the motion to include “individually, physically assisting the group.”

The motion passed unanimously. “Consider yourself hugged,” said Armstrong.

In other business, CED member Tony Politano repeated his question from the January 3 meeting: “Is there anything we can do to help or support” a local business owner’s inquiry of a possible zoning change to allow a new business in a non-commercial district.

Either we do it for everyone or no one,” said Vogell. “I would be in favor of changing zoning [rather] than spot zoning.”

The CED is not planning to address zoning as a specific agenda item in upcoming meetings, but “it’s within our consciousness,” said Armstrong.

Now we have a business [to use] as a barometer” for zoning changes,” Politano said. “Do we want to waste-utilize time at the meeting?”

Also, CED member Jane Irving updated a request by summer resident Paul Jacobs to review a proposal for a naval hospital ship to be moored in or around Castine Harbor. The ship would be staffed by medical personnel and be on alert to travel to national or world disaster sites.

This would be a great undertaking,” Irving said.

It’s certainly worth some exploration,” said Armstrong.

Finally, Politano reported on the Castine Arts Association’s scheduling of a three-day plein air festival, with “national exposure,” for July.

The idea is to use it as an economic growth engine,” he said, and to market Castine “as an arts destination.”

Upcoming meetings

Monday, February 10, 8:30 a.m., Emerson Hall.

Friday, February 14, 9:30 a.m., to meet with Maine Downtown Network representatives and (tentatively) Castine marketing consultant Barbara Whitten.