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Gardiner, Maine is a little city with big potential. With a historically intact downtown, rich natural and cultural assets, and proximity to the state capital and the Maine Turnpike, the city is well-positioned to create a bright future for its residents and business owners. Local partners are undertaking a visioning process that builds on these assets and integrates the different hopes and ideas that its long-time residents, new business owners and young families share for the community. This collaborative vision will inform future planning, investment and decision-making.
“Gardiner’s a special place. It’s like a microcosm of everything that’s great about the state of Maine.”
– Nate Rudy, Director of Economic and Community Development
Stepping onto Water Street in downtown Gardiner is like stepping into a sepia photograph. You can stroll along admiring the historic buildings and enjoy the shade of its mature locust trees while feeling the breeze come off the Kennebec River. But for each carefully maintained downtown storefront there is another wrought by convenient fixes that reflect 30 years of Maine’s economic struggle. The buildings’ façades are a metaphor for larger concerns in the community, which have kept Gardiner on the cusp of sustainable revitalization for 20 years.
With a population of 5,700, Gardiner sits within ten miles of the state capital and is part of the second largest retail and labor market in Maine. Following the decline of both US manufacturing and Gardiner’s stature as a regional service center, the city became a bedroom community for state employees and shipbuilders. Gardiner is now an eclectic mix of natives and newcomers, each with their own visions for what the City could or should become.
The City of Gardiner, Gardiner Main Street and the Gardiner Board of Trade have come together to spearhead a dynamic visioning project that will inform changes to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Downtown Master Plan and Waterfront Master Plan. This vision will spur new ideas and creative action as Gardiner seeks to become a more vibrant community—one that builds on the best from its past as it plans for a brighter future.
The City of Gardiner is governed by a City Council, a Mayor and a City Manager. There is a Planning & Development Department, Economic & Community Development, and a Recreation & Public Works Department.
One of Maine’s first Main Street Communities, sponsored by the National Trust for Historical Preservation, the Gardiner Main Street program began in 2004 with a four-point revitalization plan aimed to revive downtown Gardiner, including design, organization, promotion and economic revitalization.
A non-profit organization, Gardiner Board of Trade was founded in 1885 by local business owners and community leaders to support and maintain economic development in downtown Gardiner.