Kennebunk @ @Work Newsletter

Volume II Issue 2
April 2018

Spring Tulips

Editor's Message

          Spring seems to be struggling to show up. In case you need a reminder, here’s a photo of tulips as a sign of warmer times ahead. 

            And, as the calendar keeps moving forward, so do we. In this issue of Kennebunk@Work look for some trips down Nostalgic Lane with articles about West Kennebunk by Carol Whitten and Main Street by Steve Adams, both long time Kennebunk residents. Heather Harris, Vice Chairperson of the EDC Committee adds some insights of current activities.

           Economic Development Director, Jim Black highlights business developments. As always, we welcome new businesses who have opened their doors since our last newsletter. We give special recognition to the crews of the Department of Public Services who cleared the roads of record breaking snow during the mid-March “blizzard.” Next time you visit Town Hall, be sure to say hello to our stalwart Goose, who greets you at the entrance. We hope the news we provide here adds to your knowledge and enjoyment of our town, its history and future.

                                         Editor: Steve Hrehovcik

           Photo Credit: Geraldine Aikman, professional photographer and 
           graphic designer (207) 985-8395,

EDC Vice Chair, Heather Harris

 Notes from the Vice Chairperson 

          Though our Main Street looks better than it did even last year, we still think our downtown has some room for improvement. We’ve seen the opening of Garden Street Bowl as a wonderful place for families to have fun and enjoy a fine meal; we’ve added several retail shops to our downtown; and are proud of Kennebunk’s Home Improvement Mile that offers great selections to the homeowner and contractor alike. We even have had hints of a new cafe coming soon.
          But, we still have a few empty retail shops that we’d like to see filled and would make downtown Kennebunk more vibrant as we know it can be. We think one of the ways to create more traffic downtown is by hosting a seasonal train stop, something this committee has been hard at work on as we rally our Selectman to move the train station stop to the next step.
          We’ll continue to work to bring more people to see our beautiful town and experience our friendly businesses throughout the year. We’ll continue to tackle other issues that include working to bring workforce housing to the forefront, and get our Strategic Economic Development Action Plan put into action!

          Contributed by: Heather Harris, Vice-chairperson of the EDC and Vice 
          President, Corporate Communications Manager, Kennebunk Savings

West K – Now and Then

          The West Kennebunk Village area has been a vital part of Kennebunk since the town’s beginnings in the 1600s. During the 19th century the village (also referred to as Kennebunk Depot) was home to a railroad depot, a post office, a mercantile, a restaurant, several farms, as well as mills that utilized the power of the Mousam River. Alfred Road was part of a highway that extended through the interior of York County and to the town of Alfred, the county seat.

Welcome to West Kennebunk Village

          The coming of the 20th century saw widespread changes to West Kennebunk, among them the demise of both the railway system and the water powered mills. Agriculture, including dairy farming, continued to be an important revenue source. Because of its location there was limited population growth. Major mid-century events included the fires of 1947 and 1957, which resulted in serious losses for residents and significant changes to the land. The completion of the Maine Turnpike in 1947 with an exit in Kennebunk encouraged the creation of new manufacturing facilities in the West Kennebunk area.
          The latter part of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st century have been a time of tremendous growth in West Kennebunk. The residential population has exploded, with several new housing complexes in the area. Two new schools, a new fire station, the relocation of the historical Webhannet Building from downtown Kennebunk to Thompson Road and its rebirth as the Dorothy Stevens Community Center.

           New enterprises such as The Village Tavern restaurant, the Hampton Inn, the Toddle Inn daycare, the expansion of Kennebunk Savings operations center and the New England Cancer Specialists. In addition, various Industrial Park businesses have joined established businesses, such as Cumming’s Market and Corning to create an exciting business climate. West Kennebunk Village is a vibrant and dynamic community, comprised of residents and businesses who will work to insure that Kennebunk is well situated to move forward successfully into the 21st century.
          Contributed by: Carol Whitten, life-long resident of Kennebunk

A Nostalgic Stroll Down Main Street

Main Street, Kennebunk

          As I looked north on Main Street the other day I was struck by the inescapable fact that Main Street is “In Transition.”  It is a living, breathing thing that is always in renewal, and yet ... I stood on the bridge over the Mousam River, closed my eyes, and it was the summer of ’61 again. I could hear seagulls calling as they swooped overhead looking for “lunch” at the rear of Jones’ Diner (Cumberland Farms today). If it was Tuesday or Thursday and the winds were just right, soap suds clouds might float all over the downtown area. I looked at the soapy discharge from the back of the Kennebunk Laundry (Rotary Park today) and thought, “It looks like it’s sheets day for the Beach Hotels. We may get suds clouds today!”

          I noticed two fellows fishing at the southern side of the river and wondered, “Does the fish taste soapy?” I knew any fish I ate was fresh caught from the counter at the A&P grocery store on the corner of Main and Water Street, (attorney’s offices, today) so It wasn’t something I had to worry about.  As I continued north, I stopped at the Kennebunk System Store (Kennebunk Toy Company, today) to see if there were any new Boy Scout Neckerchief slides available, or maybe a new Merit Badge Book.

The Kennebunk Inn, Main Street, Kennebunk

           I looked over my shoulder at the Kennebunk Inn built in 1799. Was it really haunted? “Folks” all said so, and it did look like something out of Gone with the Wind with those columns. So, maybe…   

           Any thoughts of Main Street must include the Pythian Block (today the site of Main Street Barber Shop.) The Knights of Pythias owned the Block from 1890s. By the 1960s Trancy’s sold TV’s, and it was in their corner window I first beheld the wonder of color television! I purchased the building early in this century. I worked on Main Street for just about 40 years - approximately half of those years were in the corner offices where I first saw television in color all those years ago.

           I stood at that corner of Main and Bourne Street the other day to try and get into the spirit of this article and looked at the EXTRA MART (Texaco Gasoline in 1961), then across the street to the Sunoco (Chrysler-Plymouth Dealer in 1961.) I remembered that from there until you got to Kennebunk Savings, the street was lined with antique houses and magnificent elm trees. On the corner of Fletcher Street, there stood a cannon and Civil War Memorial. (Editor’s note: more about the legendary cannon in a future newsletter.)

          Standing there looking toward the Church with its Paul Revere bell, I could see our classic Town Hall, and of course, the Brick Store Museum.

          We are blessed with a Main Street that continues to grow, change and evolve. Yet, it stays so true to its roots and its own history. It is still possible to walk its length and be inundated with scenes and memories from both the distant and not so distant past.

           Contributed by:
 Steve Adams, he grew up in Kennebunk and in 1970
           became the youngest Real Estate Broker in Kennebunk, and in Maine. 
           Today he is semi-retired at Downing Real Estate in Kennebunk.             

Jim Black, Interim Economic Development Director

View From the Director

          After several months in the position of Director of Economic Development, I would like to update readers on activities taking place in town.

Business Development News-

          Following intense preparation and construction, Garden Street Bowl is up and running. I have visited several times and can say this is a fantastic place for a meal and enjoying a fun time with the family. You do not need to be a bowler. Garden Street Bowl offers a variety of menu items and everything I have tried is delicious! Stop in and check it out.

Business Attraction Activities-
  1. The town is in early discussions with a Department of Defense consulting firm interested in opening a small office. We are working with local and state officials to determine how to attract them to locate here rather than Southern New Hampshire!
  2. We are also in discussions with an investor interested in building a $25M operation that would hire up to 75 employees. With the potential to provide more than $250K in tax revenue, this may be the most exciting opportunity we have seen in a while. The nature of this ‘deal’ is fairly complicated. Right now, all signs point in a positive direction.
  3. In the next 90 days the town owned property known as the “rest area” will be sent through a public Request for Proposal process. My office has been inundated with interest in this parcel. We remain optimistic we can attract a business that is consistent with the desires of the EDC and the Board of Selectman. Returning this parcel to the tax rolls is a priority of this department.

          Look for future updates from the Economic Development Director 
          in the July issue of Kennebunk @ Work. 

          Contributed by: Jim Black, Economic Development Director,


Town of Kennebunk: A Certified Business-Friendly Community

A warm welcome to new business activities…

          Kennebunk became a “Certificate Business Friendly Community” from Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development in 2013. The town continues to welcome new businesses and help existing businesses provide valued services and products to our residents and visitors.

We are pleased to welcome the following business
that has opened since our last newsletter:

The Blue Coffee House and Wine Bar – 84 Main Street, Owner: Daniella Sharp

What Blizzard???

          Hard to believe winter dropped 2 feet of snow on Kennebunk on Wednesday, March 12 and the next day roads were clear down to the pavement. Thanks to the hardworking crews of the Department of Public Services, citizens and visitors could travel on cleared roads throughout the town. Eric Labelle, Director of the department, says, “We maintain and plow 225 lane miles of road, 33 miles of sidewalks and 14 municipal parking lots. Crews worked 48 hours clearing snow, following 12 consecutive days cleaning the beach area from storm surges.”

Kennebunk plow truck battling the storm

          Special recognition goes to truck drivers and equipment operators, Kevin, Rob, Matt, Shaun, Dave, Doug, Tony, Marshall, Ryan and Nathaniel and part time truck drivers Shawn, Fred and Jessie. Completing the team are mechanics, Steve and Chase, part time administrative assistant, Kim and operations manager, Bryan. 

          To some, it’s a blizzard. To Kennebunk’s DPS, it March.

           Photo credit: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald

Sporting a ladybug shawl 
and antenna cap, 
Goose greets all who enter the
Town Hall for town business.

The Goose greets all who enter Town Hall

The Economic Development Committee meets the first Thursday of each month at 5 PM in the Town Hall. We take a summer break in July. Meetings are open to the public and we welcome your participation. 

Let us know
 your concerns and suggestions to help make Kennebunk a great place to live, raise family and do business.           

Kennebunk @ Work

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