CARIBOU, Maine — Few individuals would have guessed three years in the past that the three-acre property at 154 Limestone St. in Caribou can be a scenic campground.
Again then, previous tires, automotive seats and different scrap metallic jutted out of the bottom, all remnants of an auto salvage yard that closed years in the past.
However now seasonal campers have reserved all however two of the 9 obtainable leisure car spots close to the shores of the Aroostook River. Strolling paths carry individuals straight to the shoreline, the place they’ll launch kayaks and canoes, fish or simply benefit from the view.
The campground, the imaginative and prescient of a neighborhood couple, has inched Caribou a bit nearer to a revitalized riverfront.
“We’re hoping to be an instance of find out how to take an space stuffed with particles and switch it into one thing good,” stated Troy Haney, who has opened the campground along with his spouse Julie. “That river is a gem. We have now to make use of it someway.”
It’s been a very long time coming for Caribou’s riverfront redevelopment efforts. The realm was as soon as a chief spot for agricultural processing vegetation and a railroad that shipped out native potatoes. That business slowly pale out, leaving the five-mile stretch of riverfront dotted with deserted buildings and a handful of close by companies and homes.
Town fashioned a Riverfront Renaissance Committee two years in the past. Although nonetheless within the planning levels of forming objectives and priorities, the committee sees the brand new campground as a step in the fitting route.
“What Troy’s doing could be very a lot according to what we wish to see,” stated Mark Draper, chair of the Riverfront Revitalization Committee. “That a part of Limestone Avenue [near the railroad] hasn’t at all times attracted individuals to the realm, however we wish to change that.”
The Haneys opened Kacie’s Campground final week. The camp is called after Julie’s daughter and Troy’s stepdaughter, Kacie, who died in a automotive crash three years in the past. She was 17.
Troy Haney started engaged on the campground two years in the past. Round that point, the town amended its campground ordinance to permit a minimal of three acres of land within the residential blended housing zone and at least seven within the rural blended housing zone. Kacie’s Campground is positioned within the residential blended housing zone.
Metropolis councilors accredited the zoning amendments hoping they’d encourage extra campground and leisure growth in areas which have historically allowed for residential properties and farms.
The efforts are beginning to carry individuals to the river, particularly these now tenting for the summer time, Troy Haney stated. Most campers are individuals who have retired, offered their properties in Aroostook County and are winter “snowbirds” in states like Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.
On a heat early August afternoon, Maurice and Laurie Pelletier had been establishing their campsite, having not too long ago moved their camper to the Haneys’ property.
The Pelletiers offered their residence in Caribou three years in the past and have since been dwelling in Florida for the winter and at campsites in Aroostook in the summertime. Once they heard Troy Haney was ending work on the brand new website in late July, they knew they needed to be nearer to a riverfront they at all times thought was stunning.
It could be nice if Caribou’s areas close to the Aroostook River may develop into bigger waterfront locations, very similar to these in Portland or Bar Harbor, Laurie Pelletier stated.
That may give extra individuals causes to take a look at the river itself, she stated.
“Possibly extra actions and eating places such as you’d see in these areas,” Laurie Pelletier stated. “That is the proper place for fishing and kayaking.”
These actions align with what Draper and the Riverfront Renaissance Committee wish to see on the riverfront. Different concepts have included specialty boutique retailers, kayak and canoe shops, a brew pub and extra strolling paths and public parks. The eventual clean-up of Caribou’s former energy plant may pave the best way for the latter challenge.
To get there, Draper’s committee gave the Caribou Planning Board suggestions on potential rezoning for the riverfront space, which may develop into its personal district or overlap with present districts.
The rezoning remains to be a piece in progress and can want approval from the town council, Draper stated.
“Mainly, [the zoning districts] will say what companies are allowed and never allowed in sure areas,” Draper stated. “Some areas shall be extra business, others extra residential or leisure.”
Within the meantime, the committee is looking for donations and grants to cowl hiring a advisor who will assist craft a riverfront grasp plan. The objective: revitalize the riverfront as a vacation spot for vacationers and locals.
When Haney appears to be like out throughout the Aroostook River and sees eagles flying to their nest excessive within the bushes or Canada geese overhead, he is aware of the potential the remainder of Caribou’s riverfront has to lure people in.
“It’s the view. It’s the privateness. It’s only a peaceable place,” Haney stated.