Raymond Community News

Envision Raymond, Ideas For the Future
by Jessica Del Valle     5-21-2014

Thirty-one people gathered at the Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) in downtown Raymond on May 10 for an “Envision Raymond Planning Charrette,” a day-long session devoted to ideas about the future of the downtown.

Ernest Cartier Creveling, Raymond Community Development/Administrative Services director, explained that “the event was held to assist the Planning Board in its endeavor to develop a village district ordinance, and to energize people about the wonderful assets we have in the core of Raymond, and to brainstorm about how we can better incorporate them into the fabric of the community and the downtown.”

He added that a charrette “is a brainstorming, planning/design meeting that includes professionals with different areas of expertise, from architecture and civil engineering, to land use planning. These folks, along with ‘users’ of the area being discussed, look at the subject from their different perspectives, with the objective of improving or maximizing the benefit of the area of consideration.” That was the task for those attending the meeting.

Attending the meeting were members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Raymond Business and Economic Development Council (RBEDC), Trustees of the Trust Funds, Ethics Committee, Board of Selectmen, Raymond Cable TV, Raymond Historic District Commission, Supervisors of the Checklist and the town treasurer. Others attending were Raymond residents, town employees, REDC staff, church members, consultants from Beta Group, Inc., and business owners. Some were invited, while others heard about the meeting through church or from other residents.

Town manager Craig Wheeler defined a vision for the group in multiple ways, including “a way to shape the future.” Wheeler went over multiple aspects for creating the vision for Raymond, including “economic development and growth, rivers of water, open space, and history, and roads, rails, and walks.”
“The charrette…not only revealed long-range projects that could be of benefit to the Town, but also allowed everyone to focus on a number of smaller, less expensive projects that can be accomplished immediately at little cost, but with great visual impact – just in time for the 250th celebration,” Creveling said.

Those short-term projects include:
• Installing gateway signage pointing people toward the downtown (Main Street at Route 27, and Main Street at Freetown Road).
•  Spray painting “sidewalk” areas on the ground around the downtown to encourage walkability.
• Connecting the painted paths to make walkable loops around the downtown.
• Planting greenery on Horse Shed Road and along the Recreational Trail, with permission from abutting landowners, alongside the Historical Society to enhance the landscape.
• Seeking permission from the state to install signage directing users of the Recreational Trail to businesses or other opportunities in Raymond.
• Changing the parking situation at the Historical Society from “Historical Society parking only” to Recreational Trail usage to encourage its use and place focus on Raymond as a trailhead.
• Trimming the tree canopy on the Town Common to increase sun exposure, and doing so along Horse Shed Road as well, removing unnecessary vegetation and strategically planting in other areas to enhance visual appearance.
• Purchasing a property currently listed for sale on Old Manchester Road to create a public access point to the Lamprey River for canoe/kayak traffic, which provides access to other parts of the Recreational Trail as well.
The ideas will be forwarded as part of the consideration of the village district ordinance.

Beta Inc. brought up the website Walk Score, which rates communities on walkability. The town of Raymond received a score of 26 out of a possible 100, meaning Raymond does not have a lot of walkable conjoining paths to places of interest, such as businesses. Marking pathways in paint and connecting them to make walkable loops are among the ways suggested to improve the town’s walkability.

Laurel Bistany, executive director of REDC, and a few others expressed mixed feelings about the town’s business potential because of the lack of sewer infrastructure. Kevin Woods raised the question of whether the vision of Raymond is being developed with the residents in mind or to get people to come into town.

“The next step is to take action on some of these do-able suggestions, get the full report back, then have the Planning Board begin using the information to update the Master Plan and start developing a village district ordinance that will work to encourage, preserve and enhance the downtown features the community appreciates and enjoys,” Creveling said.

Downtown Convenience donated beverages, the LongbranchRestaurant discounted breakfast muffins, and Supreme Pizza discounted lunch.





















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