After considerable, informal discussions, several citizens of the Bear River area concluded that the community is in need of revitalization and economic development, and so formed The Bear River Innovation, Development, and Growth Society (BRIDGS), a volunteer, not-for-profit organization. Our mission is “to improve Bear River’s infrastructure, commerce, and economic viability, and thus foster community pride while offering improved quality of life for residents, quality of experience for visitors, and incentive for people to make the community their new home.” We seek also to become a group to encourage and facilitate potential volunteers in our community; that is, to mate people with organizations needing these volunteers.
BRIDGS seeks to form vital partnerships with the involvement and in-put of community organizations and individuals as we finalize our plans. BRIDGS then will draft proposals for potential funders based on our mission.
The Bear River Plan is a multi-faceted plan that will result in:
(1) a revitalization and revival of our main street and waterfront; and
(2) the associated development of new and renewed year-round attractions to draw visitors and new citizens to the community.
(1) Streetscape and Waterfront:
• completion of sewage system;
• development of a comprehensive water sourcing and delivery system on Annapolis County side of the river;
• installation of sidewalks from seniors’ home to the village and through the village;
• appropriate signage;
• repair and replacement of cribwork along the river bank;
• strengthen and secure road side retaining walls consistent with village heritage;
• establish better accessibility and visibility of the waterfront park and the solar aquatics treatment facility, including full-time interpretive tours of the latter;
• repair of riverside boardwalk;
• canoe and kayak launch/rental facility on the old mill property;
• walking trail through a series of micro habitats and gardens;
• hiking, horse and ski trails;
• organized recreational activities for youth, adults and seniors such as softball and soccer leagues;
• new office (including technical updating for e-commerce), shop, and residential space in underutilized, renovated buildings;
• streetscape cosmetic improvements, such as lamp posts and hanging flower baskets.
(2) New and Renewed Attractions
• assist Oakdene and other interested parties is developing facilities for youth to encourage them to enjoy positive, productive activities, including the building of a multi-use court for basketball, skateboarding, and so on;
• assist the Bear River Heritage Museum Board in development of new programs, upgrading of facilities, or in whatever other way they define;
• “THE BEAR RIVER CENTER” to be housed in retrofitted, underutilized community buildings, and offering cultural and technological immersion experiences in the form of day-long to week-long workshops during which participants will be housed at local bed and breakfast establishments; workshops will be offered in specialized areas such as master art classes, alternative energy technology, drama, computer animation, etc.;
• “THE TIDAL RIVER INTERPRETIVE CENTER” highlighting the role of the river in the community’s heritage, again housed in existing buildings; included will be a major water sculpture illustrating the nature of our tides, interactive displays and models of Bear River’s logging, shipping, and guiding heritage, “green” technology exhibits, and costumed character interpreters, etc.;
• community radio station;
• consistent staffing of the Bear River Cap Site and library (located within the Oakdene Centre);
• farmers’ market for local produce;
• presentation at regular intervals of an original play about Bear River history at the Oakdene Center;
• concerts and seasonal festivals featuring local musicians on a regular schedule at Oakdene and the Exhibition Grounds.
All these innovations will result in significant increases in economic activity and employment, visitor and tourist traffic, and vital improvement in village self-sustainability. “The Bear River Plan” capitalizes on the village’s present reputation as an artistic Mecca, our noteworthy heritage, the uniqueness of our geography, tides, and building structures, our popularity with tourists, and the strengths of our citizens.