A $25 million borrowing package to revitalize riverfronts in Maine communities was proposed Tuesday in the State House. Senator Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston is lead sponsor of the bond bill.
The Democrat also co-chairs the Appropriations Committee, which reviews bond issues.
Rotondo says money from the bonds would help towns and cities to stimulate economic activity along their rivers. Examples of projects include restoration of abandoned mills or creation of a riverfront park.
Representative Tom Watson of Bath, another one of the bill’s sponsors, says for the past 150 years, we’ve done a pretty thorough job of polluting and abusing our rivers. He says it’s now time to make them a part of our communities again.
“Too many communities don’t have the facilities to take care of their river… and as a result, neglect threatens those rivers again. I’m supporting this bond because it will allow us some leverage money to do good things for the river. To allow communities to control their areas of the river, to provide new and greater access for those outside and take advantage of a natural resource,” said Rep. Watson.
Supporters also say revitalized riverfronts are attractive to business and can enhance regional tourism, both of which boost local tax revenues.
Refurbished mills on the Androscoggin in Brunswick and Topsham have become magnets for small businesses. Old Town’s manager, Peggy Daigle, says its redeveloped riverfront has also become a local recreational site.