BATH — A March 3 community forum on how to shape downtown in the coming years drew about 160 people with a range of ideas.

“It was awesome,” Mari Eosco, interim director of the Main Street Bath organization and chairwoman of the City Council, said Monday of “Downtown Tomorrow,” a visioning session hosted by the city and MSB and facilitated by Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions.

The three-hour forum, held at the Winter Street Center, asked people what they love and want to keep about Bath’s downtown, what they want to change, and what their vision is for its future. The input gleaned will be compiled and used by the city as it undertakes an update of its 2009 Comprehensive Plan, and by MSB as it seeks to evolve in order to better serve the community.

A recurring theme heard at the forum was that Bath is a place where people want to raise their children and grandchildren and also celebrates history through the city’s architecture and seaborne heritage, Eosco said.

The Kennebec River, along which ships have been built for centuries, “is part of who we are in terms both of our past and future,” she explained.

The downtown was described as a place that caters to visitors and residents alike. A place to not just shop, but also to have experiences – educational classes at Halcyon Yarn and Now You’re Cooking, and forming friendships with local business owners, Eosco noted.

Suggestions included a greater variety of evening entertainment for all ages, such as a bowling alley or movie theater, and more affordable housing.

People can weigh in further on the matter at facebook.com/groups/downtowntomorrow.

Proposed improvements included increased parking, but also encouraging people who live near downtown to walk or bicycle instead in order to relieve parking pressure.

“When I asked my 8-year-old what he had for a thought of downtown Bath in the future, he without hesitation said ‘levitating cars,’” which could then be parked on top of each other, Eosco said with a chuckle. “Great idea.”

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