MOUNT DESERT — The first step in the possible creation of a “promenade park” along the top of the bluff at the eastern edge of what is known as the Gray Cow parking lot in Northeast Harbor has been approved by the Board of Selectmen.
The board authorized the town’s Economic Development Committee to spend $3,500 for a topographical survey of the parking lot area and to have concept plans for the promenade superimposed on the survey.
The Gray Cow lot – unofficially named for an ice cream shop that was on the west side of the lot for many years – is behind the businesses and museum on Main Street and overlooks the Town Hall and marina. Improvements to that area are part of Phase 2 of the Village Center Plan that the selectmen approved in concept in December.
Phase 1 of the plan, for which voters at town meeting authorized spending up to $274,000 for engineering and design services, calls for improvements to Main Street including new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.
Jackie Hewitt, the town’s economic development consultant, said in a memo to the selectmen that the goal of Phase 2 of the Village Center Plan is to improve what is currently “the weak physical and visual link between the village center and the harbor below and to better utilize this area for business and housing expansion.”
She said an important element of that is the creation of a “promenade park” along the top of the bluff.
“This walkway would offer expansive views of the harbor … and would connect a viewing pavilion at one end with a sculptural focal point at the other,” Hewitt said. “By improving access to this area, coupled with enhanced views of the water and beyond, this park would be a significant draw for entrepreneurs who wish to renovate this section of the village.”
Hewitt said the nonprofit Mount Desert Community Development Corporation, which a group of year-round and seasonal residents recently created, intends to raise private funds to design and build the promenade.
The corporation was formed to improve the “vitality and livability” of the town through “enhancement of public spaces, infrastructure improvements, preservation of historic structures and other efforts that shape the character of the community.”