Editor’s note: Reid has written in response to an essay about Eastport in last month’s The Working Waterfront.

Maine has always made its living from wood and water. Wood has become more competitive, and the riches from the sea ain’t what they used to be. But some towns shrewdly remember this heritage and are revitalizing their ports into moneymakers. Among them are Portland, Bar Harbor”¦ and Eastport.

Eastport? The little city that might? Well, not only might—it will, if residents have their way.

I’ve been to Eastport only once. I was pleased to discover comfortable houses in a pleasant city, its charming vintage brick storefronts wreathing a picturesque harbor. Encouraging activities were happening behind its Main Street, where crews of workers were busily rehabbing almost every big old Victorian house in sight. The place was humming like a beehive.

I was impressed. I felt that tiny town was poised to take off like a rocket.

Flash forward almost a decade, and Eastport hasn’t quite lifted off yet. But it isn’t ready to roll over and die, either. It’s still trying, moving in the right direction. And people have started to notice. Last year, The Atlantic ran a positively gushing article about the city’s reinvention efforts, and articles on its increasingly busy port frequently appear in the Bangor Daily News.

Eastport sure seems to be on the path to prosperity. It has the deepest natural harbor in the 48 contiguous states, a day closer to Europe in sea time than the Port of New York and the closest Atlantic port to Asia if the polar ice keeps melting. Forty thousand head of cattle have been shipped out of its port since 2010.

The city has hosted a successful eight-month tidal energy project in 2012, and plans to construct a $140 million pellet plant were announced last month. There’s a 500,000 fish salmon farm.

In September, the city holds two major festivals: the Salmon & Seafood Festival (which recently expanded) and the awesome Pirate Festival, which honors the town’s brief smuggling history. Galleries are opening up, as has a museum and a theater. Shackford State Park is popular with hikers. Eastport even has its own newspaper. (Although oddly enough, even though Washington County is well-known for its agriculture, there’s no local fair.)

Does this sound like a boom town that people would want to move into and become part of? Apparently not; despite all this activity, Eastport has been steadily losing population, from a high of 5,311 in 1900 to its present low of 1,331 in 2010.

What’s going on here?

The article in The Atlantic claims Eastport won’t become really prosperous until it has railway access to its port. That would be nice, since rail is the cheapest way to get freight to a port. The town has been trying for a line, but there are some serious obstacles. First, most rail money these days is spent on repairing and refurbishing existing track—new-construction freight track typically costs a million dollars a mile”¦and that’s the low end! And after the recent disaster in Lac Megantic, people are leery of having freight lines close by.

Eastport needs to explore all transportation options, such as the proposed East-West Highway, which wouldn’t cost Eastport a thing. The big question is, will it ever be built? If it is, Eastport should make doubly sure that it comes streaming down from Canada and ends at the port. We all know how much Canadians love the Atlantic Ocean.

Years ago, Down East magazine ran an article stating that one of those comfortable Eastport houses could be had for the price of a Mercedes. That statement is still right on target: in place of a Mercedes, you can have a home with a water view and be part of a small-city renaissance. Eastport is a tiny gem set in a sea of aquamarine. It needs people with the same can-do spirit it’s been showing.

Roslyn Reid lives in Trenton.