City Council approves preliminary Downtown Revitalization Project design
Belfast — City councilors signed off on the preliminary design plans for the Downtown Revitalization Project that seeks to improve and enhance the infrastructure in the area of Cross Street.
After the city received a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant in 2012, a committee was formed to begin discussing how improvements could be made in the area of Cross Street, which was a designated slum and blight area.
Those plans, according to previously published reports, indicate the goal of the improvements is to increase the connectivity between the downtown and Belfast Common by adjusting traffic flow along Cross Street and installing a focal point at the entrance into Belfast Common that would be visible from Main Street in order to attract pedestrians to the area.
In addition, the city would also create additional parking spaces on Cross, Miller and Spring streets. Project Administrator Ron Harriman estimated the project would create about 40 parking spaces.
Some of the key proposals of the project would include changing Cross Street to one-way traffic from the southern edge of the public parking lot to the intersection of Spring Street. The street would continue to accommodate two-way traffic between Main Street and the public parking lot, according to previously published reports.
Other improvements include the construction of roughly 1,400 linear feet of crosswalks and sidewalks, the installation of pedestrian-scale lighting, and updating and redesigning utilities and drainage.
Since the plan was presented at a public hearing in December 2013, the committee fine tuned some aspects of the design. Speaking to councilors Tuesday, Jan. 21, Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge said the city was unable to come to an agreement with a property owner on Cross Street to acquire an easement that would allow for the construction of a node at the corner of Cross Street and Main Street.
Kittredge also pointed out that a small access road leading into Belfast Common that was originally designed to incorporate brick work, would instead be concrete.
Councilor Roger Lee asked if the node that was supposed to be located at the corner of Cross Street and Main Street could instead be relocated to the corner of Federal Street and Main Street. Kittredge said the committee “played around” with other options to allow for the addition of a node of some kind.
Where the node would be located was not identified at the meeting.
Kittredge said the committee is still discussing lighting issues, but said the lighting would most likely be minimal going into Belfast Common. Along Cross Street, Kittredge said he envisions the lighting will be similar to the lighting along Main Street, but not as bright as the lights along the Harbor Walk.
Councilor Mike Hurley suggested a bollard-style lighting: a short, upright ground mounted unit, in Belfast Common. Lee said any lighting the city looks into should be full cutoff; meaning the light is directed only at the ground and does not illuminate the night sky.
Councilors approved the preliminary design unanimously, which means the project can go into the final design phase and cost estimates to make the improvements can be completed.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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