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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, August 31, 2009

Camden, Inc.

Camden's Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee met the other day and discussed the future. There seemed to be a certain amount of moaning about the present going on: no Class A office space in town, parking problems 4 months of the year, 18-wheelers rumbling through town and discouraging development, a local populace not college-educated, an economy too heavily dependent on tourism. I'm not sure why Camden feels it must be more like Boston, but then this is a "vision" committee composed of businesspeople, and they would naturally want IBM to set up a software unit in the Knox Mill, or MBNA to rise from the dead. Why, in fact, do all peoples and committees and towns and countries believe they need to grow? Is there never a time when Camden would say it has enough? Would it be better off with a Route 1 bypass, a 10-story parking garage, a college, a conference center, a high-rise office building with elevators, broadband and a "news-stand or cafe in the lobby"? Why not just build a casino on top of Mount Battie and solve all your problems?

I happen to think Camden is a pretty good town, a little crowded downtown in August, a little precious in its pretensions, but full of good people in a beautiful place. There's still lots to do to fill and renovate and and modernize and green-ify, and I doubt if its fame and appeal would be enhanced by new industry, however clean. The Committee should buy new glasses to correct its hyperopia.

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