All summer long, I’ve been telling myself to take me and my camera to Route 1 to take photos of the ‘downtown improvements.”
Finally, I did, last week.
My inertia was overcome after driving through the work zone while returning from a concert in Boothbay. Wiscasset’s shoreline and downtown were lit up like Times Square.
On every corner, men and women wearing hideously-visible green shells were stopping traffic here and there, and then there and here.
The same was true last Thursday night. First item on the worker bees’ To Do list this night was removing an antique-y brick walkway along the Marston House. A scoop broke up the path and then dug deep and lifted its load to a dump truck and dropped it into a hopper.
A guy with a power saw cut into the sidewalk’s edging, dust billowing into the air and, one must suggest, also into the worker’s lungs, white surgical mask or not.
Further, toward Red’s, three men were measuring where the new sidewalk will be laid.As I stood on the corner next to In the Clover, Bob Bond, Wiscasset’s non-stop marketer and photographer walked up. We talked for about 15 minutes.
Then, a woman, carrying what looked to be a grocery bag came by. She lives in one of the apartments in the building’s upper floors. And while some people are happy about the “downtown improvements”, she is not. It’s been a hellish summer for her. Noise, dust, lack of sleep. It’s the same story told by other downtown residents. She is also bugged that parking her car has become less convenient. She, like others who live in the middle of the construction, feel they’ve been slighted and ignored by the project’s planners.
The project has been divisive for some of the town. Only a handful of store owners participate in the Friends of Wiscasset Village group which has sent volunteers to welcome tourists. Some business owners are still skeptical the $5 million project will ease the summertime/weekend traffic.
There’s still lots of work to do. More asphalt to lay down, electrical systems to go in, stop lights to install, and more.
I know I’ll be taking more photos - in two years all the frustrations will be memories. The pictures will be reminders of what was. After all, no one really knows how downtown will look and function in a few years.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.