Focused Discussion #1: Growing and Maintaining Gardiner’s Population

The Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Heart & Soul Trustees hosted a focused discussion on April 4th to solicit ideas for what the community and City can do to grow and maintain the City’s population. The discussion was held at Lisa’s Legit Burritos on Water Street in Downtown Gardiner and was attended by 20-25 people, a number of whom had participated in previous H&S activities. The event opened with brief overviews of the purpose of the focused discussion and the H&S process including the draft Community Vision. This was followed by a short presentation on the City’s population and demographic trends (see attached handout). Participants were then asked to share their ideas for what the City and community can do to make Gardiner a better place for people of all ages. People’s ideas and comments were recorded on a flip chart and are transcribed below:

April 4, 2013
  • Create incentives (including monetary) to encourage people to move to Gardiner
  • Make the energy that is now bubbling up in Gardiner known to people outside of the City – for example to people in the Brunswick area
  • Identifying and promoting the community’s assets such as the school system, downtown, etc. – use the City’s website to make this information to available
  • It’s hard to find information on the Internet with two City websites that aren’t linked – the two sites need to be linked and set up to cross-direct users to the other site as appropriate
  • Create more housing options in the City
    • Condos for young families starting out as well as for empty-nesters
    • Good quality rental housing – multifamily options
  • Promote new types of uses such as the proposed bed and breakfast
  • The idea of a marketing piece is very important – it could include identifying people who are willing to be contacted about what it’s like to live in Gardiner and to tell the story about the advantage of living in a livable, walkable community
  • Market the new energy that is emerging in the Downtown – things are changing with new businesses
  • Promote Gardiner’s central location as a place to live – connections as a result of I-295 and the Turnpike and the relationship to the coast
  • The City has a rich history that is an attraction to people from outside the City – history is an important part of the community’s culture but we shouldn’t pigeon-hole the City as a history museum
  • Explore creative ways to better use the existing housing stock without damaging the fabric of the community or creating problems for the neighborhood – look at other possible uses
  • Need to improve Internet service to allow increased telecommuting and home occupations
  • Find ways to creatively use existing properties (old churches, etc.) rather than tearing them down – possible reuse as condos
  • Need a social/economic anchor – there needs to be a reason for the community to exist – including its regional role
  • The new anchor could be Downtown – but not a 19th Century version of Downtown – possibly explore the concept of a semi-carless downtown
  • A discussion of what attracts 30 somethings to live in or move to Gardiner:
    • It’s a short commute to Augusta (and also to Lewiston/Auburn and Brunswick)
    • It feels real
    • Housing is less expensive than in Brunswick or Greater Portland
    • Family connections
    • Able to easily become part of the community
    • Can settle down here and raise a family
    • The ability to walk from home to get a beer and a cappuccino with WiFi access
    • Downtown is a draw but there is still not enough to do
    • Idea of a virtual tour to create the “living experience”
  • The role of the real estate community in steering people to or away from the City
  • Ideas that evolved during the storytelling interviews (reported by Gail Dyer)
    • A desire for more community activities – athletic activities such as softball or volleyball
    • A desire by young families for more activities for children other than organized sports
      • A skateboard park
      • A place for teens to “hang out”
  • A youth center
  • The City has the opportunity to be a destination for recreation activites
    • A whitewater kayaking facility
    • A Route 24 bike lane
  • Create a welcome committee as part of the H&S project
  • The possibility of a bus link to the University of Maine-Augusta – the potential for Gardiner to serve as student housing
  • Need for a laundromat in Gardiner – the possibility of a Laundromat club – maybe a project for the Board of Trade
  • Put personal endorsements of “Gardner Living” on the City’s website
  • Spread the target of the web site and message further – focus on providing information to people from away
  • Good and improving schools – maintain a commitment to continue to improve the school system
  • Hallowell is “inclusive” and we should send the message that Gardiner is also “inclusive” and welcomes all people
  • Need for better transit service – aging population
  • Consider a “neighbors helping neighbors” program
  • Concern about existing multifamily properties – some create problems for the neighborhood – issue of landlords
  • Nice apartments equals nice tenants
  • Neighborhood assets – enhance livability of these neighborhoods
  • Property maintenance issues
  • Improved lighting in Downtown

 

 

 

April 4, 2013

 

Gardiner Population and Demographic Trends

 

  • The population of Gardiner decreased significantly over the past 20 years while the population of the outlying communities has been growing.

 

Population Change, 1990-2010

 

Total Population

1990

2000

2010

% Change 1990-2010

West Gardiner

2,531

2,902

3,474

37.3%

Litchfield

2,650

3,110

3,624

36.8%

Readfield

2,033

2,360

2,598

27.8%

Manchester

2,099

2,465

2,580

22.9%

Richmond

3,072

3,298

3,411

11.0%

Pittston

2,444

2,548

2,666

9.1%

Winthrop

5,968

6,232

6,092

2.1%

Farmingdale

2,918

2,804

2,956

1.3%

Hallowell

2,534

2,467

2,381

-6.0%

Gardiner

6,746

6,198

5,800

-14.0%

Kennebec Co.

115,904

117,114

122,151

5.4%

Maine

1,222,000

1,266,848

1,328,361

8.7%

Source: US Census

 

  • Gardiner’s population is getting older and there are fewer children, young people, and younger families living here.

 

Gardiner General Age Distribution, 1990-2010

 

 

1990

2000

2010

% Change 1990 to 2000

% Change 2000-2010

% Change 1990-2010

Under 25

2,394

2,017

1,690

-15.7%

-16.2%

-29.4%

25-44

2,180

1,839

1,526

-15.6%

-17.0%

-30.0%

45-64

1,173

1,499

1,749

27.8%

16.7%

49.1%

65 and over

999

843

835

-15.6%

-0.9%

-16.4%

Source: US Census

 

  • There will probably be a large increase in the City’s elderly population over the next 10-20 years as a result of the aging of the baby-boom generation.

 

Gardiner General Age Distribution, 1990-2010

General Age DistributionSource: US Census

  • The incidence of poverty among families with children seems to be increasing

 

Gardiner Families with Children Under 18 Below the Poverty Line, 1990-2010

Families with children under 18 below the poverty line  

Source: US Census, 2006-2010 ACS