CARIBOU, Maine — A metropolis committee is aiming to show the once-busy Aroostook River waterfront right into a extra vibrant house for residents, enterprise homeowners and recreation fans.
An space that when was residence to factories, residences and the railroad, after which turned largely unused, may see new improvement.
Fashioned in fall 2021, the five-member Caribou Riverfront Renaissance Committee not too long ago kicked off a significant fundraising marketing campaign that can finance a marketing consultant to draft a riverfront grasp plan. It will permit Caribou to affix different cities and cities in Maine, equivalent to Rockland, which have revitalized their waterfronts and made them contribute to their economies once more.
“We’re trying to revitalize a once-thriving space and make it a extra nice place to go to,” Caribou Code Enforcement Officer Ken Murchison mentioned.
Murchison mentioned the grasp plan will function proof that the town has a radical plan for the riverfront, making Caribou eligible for redevelopment challenge grants. These initiatives can embody helping entrepreneurs, setting up new housing and creating new parks and leisure trails.
In July, ENGIE Power, a global solar energy firm, donated $7,000 towards the committee’s efforts. ENGIE is constructing a 25-acre photo voltaic farm close to the riverfront, in an space that gained’t disrupt scenic views, Murchison mentioned.
The riverfront committee will use these and different funds to rent the marketing consultant, whose plan will embody the committee’s redevelopment objectives, a imaginative and prescient assertion, proposed land use and zoning laws and a projected timeline for assembly objectives.
Committee members hope to boost $50,000 to fund the marketing consultant’s work.
Beginning within the early 1900s, the world close to the Aroostook River in Caribou was residence to massive starch factories and potato storage items in addition to many residential properties. The area was additionally related to the Maine Northern Railroad and served as the positioning for a now-defunct energy plant.
As numerous industries left the riverfront space through the years, close by houses fell into disrepair and plenty of constructions had been demolished, although the previous locomotive storage stays. Caribou has not seen lively railroad service in a decade.
However the riverfront committee hopes to revitalize that area by attracting new companies and dealing with its present infrastructure.
This spring, they joined forces with leaders in Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield and Limestone to petition the Maine Division of Transportation to review the 33-mile stretch of inactive railroad that connects the 4 communities.
The DOT, who owns Maine Northern Railroad, has since agreed to kind a railroad reuse fee that can examine whether or not there may be nonetheless potential for rail transportation.
The fee can even analyze whether or not the present rails may be repurposed for leisure trails, a transfer that will join the riverfront space to present snowmobile and ATV path techniques.
Murchison mentioned that if Caribou created new strolling trails close to the river, they might join with close by Water Road, a significant gateway to the town’s downtown area.
“There’s lots of potential for [the area], as long as it’s developed appropriately,” Murchison mentioned.
To this point, the world’s most anticipated new enterprise is one aiming to showcase the river’s pure magnificence. Later this summer time, Troy Haney will open a brand new campground close to Limestone Road that can have clear views of the river and spots for individuals to park campers. His enterprise turned extra doable by current modifications to the town’s campground ordinance.
There’s additionally a brand new climate-controlled snowmobile and ATV storage facility set to open this fall, with direct entry to trails close to the riverfront.
“The riverfront is considered one of our greatest saved secrets and techniques, however we’re seeing extra curiosity due to these companies,” Murchison mentioned.