Predicting the future may be impossible, but shaping it isn’t.

Main Street Bath and the City of Bath are hosting a forum at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to envision what that shape might look like for the city. The forum, at Winter Street Center, 880 Washington St., seeks input from residents in and around Bath to learn what people want, and what people think the future of the city should hold.

A Facebook group established ahead of the forum has already received an outpouring of comments and support. Sally Johnstone, who is administrating the group, said she’s encouraged but not surprised by the wealth of ideas.

“People feel very passionate about this community,” she said. “I’m happy people are feeling free to express their opinion.”

Free expression is exactly what Main Street Bath wants from those chiming in. Questions like what Bath needs downtown and how the city can develop its businesses to be more appealing are central to the conversation.

“What could we do to make it even better? How does it need to change in the next 10 years? What should stay the same?” said Johnstone.

Opinions on Facebook have been varied, from a desire to keep businesses open later so working families have more access to downtown, to a perceived need for more live music that appeals to younger audiences.

“More live music venues please. Portland is a haul,” wrote one commenter.

“I am 20 years old I go to Portland and Freeport for free music events because they are more accommodating to my generation,” writes another.

Those sorts of comments are exactly what Main Street, and the city, are hoping to get, from as broad a range of people as possible.

“We’re still strategizing on how to get all age groups,” said Main Street Bath Interim Director Mari Eosco.

While much of Maine continues to face the dilemmas of an older and older population, Bath’s age range is holding fairly steady.

Statewide, Maine saw a 6.5 percent decrease in population under 18, according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. Bath, however, was up 7.8 percent. Family households in Maine (those with children under 18) were also down 13.8 percent. Bath has remained steady.

“Bath is actually attracting more than its fair share of families with kids,” said Johnstone. With her career, she said, she could have chosen to live anywhere, and chose Bath specifically for its family appeal. “I chose Bath because it looked like the best place in the world to raise my son. And I’m not alone.”

Keeping that trend alive requires input from those families that came here, to learn what made them come in the first place and what continues to make them stay.

The Downtown Tomorrow forum serves as more than just a way to shape the plan for downtown, it’s also a chance for Main Street Bath to analyze its own role within the community. “It’s Main Street looking at itself 16 years in as an organization, and saying, ‘okay, are we meeting the needs of the community?’” Eosco said.

Part of that is analyzing how the organization can help businesses and the community continue their relationships. “Without the businesses, we don’t have a place for the community to go. And without the community, the businesses don’t have anyone supporting them,” she said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

So if you have a vision, a question, or just an opinion to share about the future of Bath, the city and Main Street Bath want to hear it.

For more information, call 442-7291, visit, or find Downtown Tomorrow on Facebook.