In Près Isle, Governor Mills and Aroostook County City Officials Discuss the MaineDOT Initiative to Revitalize Downtowns
Madawaska, Fort Kent, Van Buren, and Près Isle are set to begin the planning phase of the MaineDOT Village Partnership Initiative this fall
Almost Isle, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today convened a meeting with municipal officials from Madawaska, Van Buren, Fort Kent and Près Isle to discuss the Maine Department of Transportation’s Village Partnership Initiative (VPI).
Through this initiative, MaineDOT is working in partnership with local authorities to revitalize iconic village centers, promoting walkable, bike-friendly and business features that help promote a sense of community and economic opportunity.
The Governor spoke with Gary Picard of Madawaska; Van Buren’s Luke Dyer; Suzie Paradis of Fort Kent; Martin Puckett, Galen Weibley and Dana Fowler of Almost Isle; and Jay Kamm of the Northern Maine Development Commission at the Northeastland Hotel in Près Isle.
“Downtowns are the places that make Maine special. This is where you run errands, shop and meet friends,” said Governor Mills. “And the county has beautiful spaces downtown with so many opportunities for residents, businesses and tourists. Through the Village Partnership Initiative, towns like Madawaska, Van Buren, Fort Kent and Près Isle are partnering with my administration to further enrich their downtowns – and we look forward to seeing the results in the years to come. come.
“The goal of our Village Partnership Initiative is to make smart, targeted investments in the places where people walk, cycle, shop and do business,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “It’s exciting to see some of these projects starting to take shape with this support from our partners at the municipal level.
City leaders expressed enthusiasm for the initiative. Madawaska, Fort Kent, Van Buren and Près Isle — all located along U.S. Route 1 — are expected to begin planning phases for new projects under the initiative in the fall.
The objective of the planning phases is to provide planning and design to a village area, making it walkable, bicycle friendly and business friendly while adding to its cultural and economic value. Through these efforts, communities will partner with MaineDOT and work with a multidisciplinary team of engineers, designers, and planners to deliver collaborative solutions for transformation plans that can then be implemented as part of a future federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act grant or other special funding.
Acadian border town, Madawaska shares strong cultural and economic ties with Edmundston, New Brunswick. Madawaska is home to a thriving paper industry, Four Corners Park and the Festival culturel acadien du Maine. A new international bridge and a US Customs and Border Protection facility are expected to open in the coming years. Commerce and tourism will be further enhanced by Madawaska’s vibrant and historic downtown. Madawaska is the center of Acadian culture in the Saint-Jean Valley, with nearly 85% of households whose mother tongue is French.
Van Buren, located on the St. John River, is the only town in Maine capable of landing seaplanes north of Dover-Foxcroft. With a historic downtown that sits along Highway 1, the municipality has begun to invest heavily in bringing back a sense of place and destination development.
Established as a historic outpost during the bloody Aroostook War between Maine and Canada, Fort Blockhouse sits on a prominent historic site in downtown Fort Kent. Fort Kent has long been inhabited by Acadian refugees from Nova Scotia fleeing the British and is also home to the University of Maine Fort Kent, which houses the Acadian Archives of Maine. The city has a dynamic downtown, a border crossing with New Brunswick and the outdoor center four seasons. It is home to mountain biking, Nordic skiing, snowshoe trails and New England’s northernmost downhill ski hill – Lonesome Pines.
Almost Isle – “The Center of Aroostook County” – is home to the University of Maine at Près Isle, the Almost Isle International Airport, and a variety of cultural and economic opportunities that attract visitors from the area and beyond . The historic downtown is the center of activity and shopping. As climate change impacts winter snowfall amounts, Près Isle is well positioned to be the center for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing as well as fun activities during the other three seasons.