A few years ago my wife and I were visiting the “prettiest little village” in Maine and simply fell in love with the town and the locals whom we visited with. We ended up purchasing a property on Main Street (not anything we ever planned to do).

No, we do not live in Wiscasset, nor have we been able to visit as often as we would like. Even though we live far away in the mountains of Colorado, we have become fervent supporters and promoters of the community and only want the best for the town into the future.

We have been following this debate from a distance, but it has gotten to a point where we see our tax dollars being wasted on these lawsuits and not going toward actually helping the town improve. While there are points for every side of the issue, as there always are, our hope is to try to add some outside perspective from someone directly impacted by and invested in the outcome of this project.

Our main home and business is in Vail, a ski resort in Colorado. Out here we consider a building built in the early 1960s as “historic” (insert chuckle from anyone reading this in Maine).

We have had quite a bit of development in our village here (where we operate retail businesses) and in another Colorado town that we have ties to, Boulder. Each of these towns incorporate pedestrian-only areas, broader sidewalks, and dedicated parking near but not directly on the main boulevards.

Many studies have shown that layouts like this will not only make it easier to find available parking, but add to customers spending more time visiting shops and supporting the local economy through purchase revenue (which increased sales tax revenue could lead to decreased property tax revenue).

Using Vail as an example, our property taxes are 1/7th of what our property taxes are in Wiscasset and the town is still quaint, charming, and businesses have a real chance to thrive — as customers can easily park and shop.

My first-hand account of living in towns that have done similar projects is that it will have the following positive impacts:
• Much needed revitalization of the crumbling Main Street sidewalks.
• It will have some impact on the traffic flow through Main Street, maybe not a perfect solution, but anything will help.
• Greatly improve the overall visual appeal of the Main Street area, which will lead to attracting passers-by to stop, park and shop.
• Provide a basis for becoming more of a true destination in the future and not a place that people simply pass through.

Unfortunately, we seem to only be in town for a day or two at any one time this past year (and concerned wholly with any current project to our property), but I look forward to the time when I don’t have to circle the block several times fighting traffic hoping for a parking spot to open, and can stroll on the new sidewalks; stopping at Treats for a coffee before I peruse Moulinette Mercantile, Beelicious, Birch, Wiscasset Bay Gallery, Trifles Antiques, Rendall Fine Art, and visit with all the people that drew us to this town in the first place.

To the other out-of-town owners of the properties on Main Street, instead of funding the opposition lawsuit, why not embrace the project (as the majority of Wiscasset residents did in the initial vote) and put the money and effort you’re spending on this lawsuit into restoring your buildings.

We should all be working toward impactful improvements to this historic town, that we are all lucky enough to be the current stewards in the history of it.

My wife and I are directly invested in the future of the town and especially business on Main Street. We firmly believe that a NO vote to stop the wasteful lawsuit on April 17 is the best choice for ensuring that Wiscasset remains the “prettiest little village in Maine.”

Bradbury and Julee Ketelhut
Wiscasset and Vail, Colorado