RUMFORD — Envision Rumford!, a group of business leaders and community members trying to make Rumford more user-friendly, was given “wholehearted” support by the Board of Selectmen Thursday after presenting their three projects. 

The majority of the crowd attending the meeting were Envision Rumford! members, several who spoke about the following projects: 

  • Designing and printing new maps of downtown Rumford and greater Rumford to help visitors find “the Island,” navigate its one-way streets, and locate businesses and services there.
  • A virtual tour video depicting downtown Rumford and businesses.
  • Creating zip lines over Pennacook Falls on the Androscoggin River to downtown Rumford. 

Following the presentation, Selectman Jeff Sterling motioned for the “wholehearted” support of Envision Rumford! efforts, noting, “I mean the energy, just listening tonight, is encouraging.”

“I wholeheartedly second that motion,” quickly responded Selectman Brad Adley.

The board voted 4-0. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was absent.

 Launched in 2011 to grow business, and to strengthen the island as a place to do and be in business, Envision Rumford! also includes town officials, representatives from state and federal government agencies, and interested local residents.

Speaking about the two-sided maps were members Jennifer Kreckel, an attorney, and Tammi Lyons of Lennox Capital Management. They solicited 52 ads from 46 businesses and nonprofits, with those ads around the outer edges of the maps.

The maps were designed by Cherry Smith, owner of Ink Plaza, and printed by The Maine Press, which is owned by Thomas Bourret.

Kreckel said the ads will cover the cost of printing 5,000 copies and will be ready to distribute by Memorial Day. 

Regarding the video project, member and Rumford Economic Developer Jim Rinaldo said the video, shot by Steve Casey and narrated by Cherri Crockett, should be finished by Memorial Day for display at theInformationCenterbeside Route 2. He said the hope is that the video will be able to be seen by tourists through a window even during the hours when the center is closed.

Member and Attorney Thomas Carey said provided an update about the zip line project, with they are promoting through signs depicting a thumb’s up gesture as support. He has been providing a growing list of people with updates through an email distribution list.

“People, when I ask them about the zip lines, they know what’s going on. The word is out there and it’s nice to hear that energy coming back. That’s something that’s been missing here for some time,” he said.

“People are hopeful, and that’s good to see. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be successful, necessarily, but I think we’d all feel worse if we didn’t give it a try,” said Carey.

He said they are dealing with a lot of state and federal agencies about the project, but the only roadblock to date is word from Brookfield Power, the business that operates the Pennacook Falls Dam, saying they’re not on board with it.

“That’s not necessarily the final word. We have responded to their ‘No’ and hopefully they’ll respond to our request for reconsideration,” said Carey.

He said if Brookfield continues that stance, the project size would be reduced. “It wouldn’t be what it could be. Does that mean it’s not going to be successful? I don’t know. It won’t be as exciting. Perhaps, if it does end up as that, maybe with a reduced size as a beginning, maybe Brookfield will come around.”

Carey said the zip line project is intended to be one of a kind. There are up to six potential zip lines sites, perhaps unmatched in the world, with over 14,000 feet of zip lines, with two of them alone measuring between 3,850 and 4,000 feet.

Each of the zip lines will be within a matter of feet from Route 2, which is considered a “sweet spot” in the zip line industry, and Rumford’s business district. The zip line project will be an incubator for other businesses and vendors. The consequences of the project are endless but the seed needs to be planted and cultivated. The zip line project has both destination potential and the advantage of high traffic volume on Route 2. Hotels, restaurants, clothing vendors, gas stations and many more businesses will be the beneficiaries.

He said a critical part of their plan includes expert review of the zip line sites by a professional to determine their viability and also to generate a business plan that is mutually beneficial to the developer, manager and operator of the project.

Carey said the project has already gained the support of some local state representatives.

“I wish you well. There may be a few roadblocks, but I’m sure you can get through them. You’ve got a great bunch of people working with you,” noted Board Chairman Greg Buccina.

Plans are in the works for a one-day dual zip line for this year’s Fourth of July celebration on Hosmer Field.

Envision Rumford member Jim Sysko, an engineer from Newry who made his own 5,000-foot zip line, proposed dual lines running from high on the third baseman’s line banking with rigging extending from Hannaford parking lot and a line extending down the first base line beyond the fence and anchored by a skidder with the ending point being inside the ballpark.