by Seth Koenig
BATH — The Natural Resources Council of Maine, in tandem with a group of state legislators, plans to release details today of a proposed $25 million bond to aid riverfront revitalization efforts in Maine cities and towns.
Among those slated for attendance at an 11 a.m. conference in Augusta today was State Rep. Thomas Watson, D-Bath, who said Monday that the bond would be used to offer incentives to riverside communities that wish to better capitalize on rivers for water-related industrial or commercial development, or as sources for increased tourism attention.
“One way to describe it is, ‘Putting the rivers back to work,’s in an economically and environmentally friendly fashion,” said Watson, one of the legislative sponsors for the bond.
According to a release, the Riverfront Community Development Bond “will create a competitive grants program to support voluntary, community-driven projects” and “leverage other private and public resources,” as “all projects will require at least a $2 match for every $1 from this fund.”>/p>
If approved, the bond could attract attention from many Mid-coast communities. Topsham, Brunswick and Lisbon are among the many towns potentially qualifying for funds on the Androscoggin River; while Bath, Woolwich and Richmond are on the long list of Kennebec River abutters.
“With more than 30,000 miles of rivers in the state — and more than half of Maine’s population living in riverfront communities — the potential benefits of a bond to leverage community investments and bring about river-based economic revitalization projects are enormous,” reads a Natural Resources Council of Maine statement on the bond proposal.
The Council is joined in support of the initiative by the Androscoggin River Alliance, Maine Audubon, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and The Nature Conservancy, among other participating organizations.