BIDDEFORD (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Saving the clock tower in Biddeford may not help teenagers travel through time or power a DeLorean, BUT it will help preserve a community landmark that is more than a century old.
Biddeford City Officials are trying to get Mainers to vote to help the city win funds to restore the 123-year-old clock tower. It is one of 20 national sites to compete for funds in a downtown revitalization program called Vote Your Main Street.
Until October 26, the public can vote, up to five times a day, for their favorite community to receive the grant funding and the top ten vote-getting communities will get $150,000.
City leaders say the tower needs an entire facelift worth an estimated $3 million dollars, but they're hoping by winning the grant they can at least start by restoring the clock and rebuilding the four faces of decorative work outside the clock room.
Biddeford is the only community in the state of Maine to have a project selected to compete for this funding opportunity.
The Biddeford City Hall clock tower is an 1895 landmark designed by Portland architect John Calvin Stevens. It was neglected for decades leading to substantial deterioration and leaking.
Mayor Alan Casavant says over the years garnering support for the renovations has been a challenge. Voters rejected referendums to fund the work in 2007, 2012 and 2015.
"One of the problems in Biddeford and other communities, especially with the great recession, is a lot of capitol projects got put on the back burner." Casavant says "Well those chickens have come home to roost."
Mayor Casavant says bringing the clock tower back to it's former glory will only reflect and fit in with the renaissance that has been happening in Biddeford.
But he says the city won't win the grant without the help of people in Biddeford and beyond. "This is really about community, if you live in Biddeford or not, it's about relationships and friendships and communities banding together to do something positive."
For movie fans, Biddeford's campaign evokes memories of "Back to the Future." A clock tower preservation effort was a central plot point. The lightning bolt that damaged the clock was harnessed to power a time machine in order to send the time-displaced lead character back to his proper place in history.