BAR HARBOR — The Village Improvement Association (VIA) continues a long tradition of behind-the-scenes work to keep Bar Harbor beautiful, most recently with a plan to raise money to upgrade a portion of the upcoming reconstruction of Route 3.
VIA members have been involved with a Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) community advisory group working on the Route 3 project since 2010. Now that plans are finalized, they’re hoping to upgrade the surface of a planned walking and bicycling path along the road from asphalt to concrete or brick, VIA president Dick Cough said at the VIA annual meeting last week.
“The VIA can be the recipient organization for donations” to support the upgrade, he said. The DOT project budget only includes money for an asphalt surface. “We want to make the path enticing, a tourist attraction in itself,” thereby reducing the number of cars traveling from hotels along Route 3 into town. A group from the VIA also planned to meet with the DOT’s landscaper this week to discuss the tree canopy along the road.
“Don’t get me wrong – this is a great project,” Cough said. “But it’s important for us to keep an eye on it and make sure it’s as good as we can get.”
The VIA is 125 years old and still going strong, providing support for parks and other beautification projects here. The group was organized even longer ago, in 1881, but was incorporated and had its first annual meeting in 1891.
Earlier this summer, Jeff Dobbs created a short video to promote the VIA and its work.
The VIA’s proposed budget for 2016-2017 includes $30,000 for work on Grant Park at the end of Albert Meadow, including regrading, creating a mini-amphitheatre, a new seating and picnic area along the shore path and granite stairways down to the water. Repair of another section of the Shore Path that was partially washed out this spring is budgeted to cost $7,000. The group has replaced the fence around the pool and swing set at Glen Mary and performed maintenance on the town clock at the Village Green.
Revenue for these projects comes from the VIA endowment, a portion of income from the Gladys F. O’Neil Charitable Trust, member dues and other gifts.