When is a parking lot a civics lesson?

At first glance, it looked like the ultimate expression of small-town culture. City officials, residents and businesspeople stopped what they were doing last Thursday afternoon to take part in the solemn occasion of a parking lot ribbon-cutting.

But, on reflection, it was no small matter. Not if you live, work or pay taxes in Ellsworth. The reconstruction of the Printing House Square lot off Water Street is a business boon and a civics lesson. Mayor Marc Blanchette, in his remarks, took note of the practical value of a smooth, clearly marked, well-laid-out parking lot for consumers and the downtown employees who serve them.

City Manager David Cole, in observations he provided to event MC Ruth Foster, reminded the gathering that the ambitious parking lot reconstruction project is a fine example of a public-private partnership. The excavation, new base, final paving and light fixtures cost $200,000. The city of Ellsworth paid 70 percent of the bill, $138,000. The rest was apportioned among the businesses whose buildings back onto the lot and whose customers and employees will be the primary parkers.

Towns on Mount Desert Island, particularly Southwest Harbor, must weep with envy at the cooperative approach that yielded, not only a fine parking lot, but also a cake and lemonade party at its dedication.

KJ Dugas Construction gave the city lot a smart new look and volunteer organizations, including Heart of Ellsworth, the Chamber and the Ellsworth Garden Club established greenspace.

So, perhaps the whole undertaking was, in fact, the ultimate expression of small-town culture. Here’s to small-town culture!

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