Take a Walk in Westbrook for Jane

Jane’s Walks are back in Westbrook this May! Whether you know what a Jane’s Walk is or you’re interested in learning more, keep reading to learn all about this amazing way to check out what’s going on around Westbrook and a taste of what to expect in the future!

“We expect too much of our new buildings and too little of ourselves.”  – Jane Jacobs 

Jane Jacobs was a global activist and author, perhaps most famous for organizing grassroots efforts to protect neighborhoods from urban renewal. If you look back at some historic photos of downtown Westbrook, you’ll see we could have used a Jane Jacobs here during our urban renewal period. 

In honor of Jacobs’ life and achievements, Jane’s Walks have been hosted around the world since 2007. Jane’s Walks were held in Portland in the late 2010s but fell by the wayside during the pandemic.

A coalition of nonprofits that share a focus on the built environment (Portland Downtown, the Maine Downtown Center, Greater Portland Landmarks, Friends of Congress Square Park, and Maine Preservation) partnered to bring the Walks back on a statewide level last year. DDW hosted Jane’s Walks to rave reviews. 

This Year’s Jane’s Walks

This year the Walks are back again and better than ever. We were fortunate enough to gain support from the Maine Office of Tourism and the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust for our 2023 effort.  

Jane’s Walks are meant to be a community conversation around a particular local issue or place. As development continues Downtown, Jane’s words about expecting too much of new buildings and too little of ourselves can help guide the May 6 Walks and conversations held here in Westbrook. 

What do we want to see? What standards do we hold for ourselves? Density is great, but density without urbanism is as uninviting as too much parking. Jane Jacobs wrote about development that promoted “eyes on the street”.

Many eyes help in creating safer communities. That means building places where more people want to walk, roll, bike, and linger. Jane’s Walks are a perfect opportunity to thoughtfully examine our community and help us determine if that’s what we’re getting. If it’s not, then it’s an opportunity to discuss how we get there.

There is a fear that in Westbrook, development has been welcomed because it was simply seen as progress. When we refuse to say “no” to anything, we end up with the worst of everything. There is a hope that having these Jane’s Walks will start a conversation that makes it easier to draw the line and understand what we do and don’t want for our downtown. 

Jane’s Walks in Westbrook on May 6th, 2023

A Vision for Westbrook.

Led by Robyn Saunders

Saturday May 6, 2023 10:00-11:00am
Vallee Square (Next to Frog and Turtle)

This walk will be led by Robyn Saunders, project manager for the City of Westbrook. So much is happening in downtown Westbrook!

In addition to Vertical Harvest’s urban greenhouse and the new municipal parking garage, there are plans to add housing, redevelop Saccarappa Park as a four-season pavilion, upgrade the downtown Riverwalk, and more!

Meet and walk with Robyn Saunders as she shares the vision for what’s to come in downtown Westbrook. There is a lot of construction happening downtown, Westbrook Common is complete, and there’s more to come! Join Robyn as she provides a vision of what’s happening now and what’s to come as we lay the future for Westbrook’s future.

Then and Now, A Walk Down Main Street.

Walk led by Mike Sanphy

Saturday, May 6, at 11:00, meet at the intersection of Spring and Main Street

Distance: 1 mile, approximately 1 hour

This walk is led by local historian, author of the newly published book Westbrook Remembered, and longtime member of the Westbrook Historical Society –  Mike Sanphy. Join Mike at 11:00 at the intersection of Spring and Main Street and continue to walk down Main Street to Saco Street.

Experience the stories, see the pictures, and remember – or imagine – what Main Street used to be. 

Engineering, Stormwater Design, and Trails in Our Downtown

Walk led by Rhonda Forrester. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023, meet at 11:00 at Riverbank Park Roundabout

Distance: 3 miles, approximately 1 hour

View downtown Westbrook through the lens of Civil Engineering and Urban Planning with DDW Board member, Portland Trails member, and Civil Engineer Rhonda Forrester.

Curious about what is considered when designing downtown spaces? What do we need to consider when connecting our neighborhoods?

What’s so important about stormwater, anyway? Rhonda will help you discover the planning and design necessary to create urban landscapes and what trails you can access right from downtown. 

Saccarappa: Past, Present, and Future

Led by Mike Shaughnessy.

Saturday, May 6th at 4:00pm , meet at the North End of the Dana Warp Mill   

Distance: 1 mile, approximately 1.5 hours 

This walk will be led by Michael Shaughnessy, founding member of Friends of the Presumpscot, former Professor of Art at the University of Southern Maine, and Discover Downtown Westbrook Board member.

Westbrook has a deeply rooted relationship with the Presumpscot River, yet its history often goes unrecognized. Join Michael as he shares the fascinating history of the restoration of the Presumpscot River and its dynamic ecosystem. The walk will begin at the north (upstream) end of The Dana Warp Mill.

We will visit the restored eastern falls. Then to the Fish Ladder and Lower Falls. Then to the Western Falls. We will discuss the historic Indigenous, colonial, and post-colonial significance, the restoration process, and the ecological importance of the falls. As well we will have a discussion about the future potential of the Falls as a regionally important public space in Downtown Westbrook.

We hope to see you at one of these great Walks on May 6th! To learn more or register for a walk, click here!

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Discover Downtown Westbrook
P.O. Box 269
Westbrook, Maine 04098

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