City trades land to acquire easements along Cross Street for Downtown Revitalization project
Belfast — Belfast officials authorized the city manager to enter into agreements with three property owners on Cross Street to secure a wider right-of-way to allow for a number of improvements in the area.
The city received a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant in 2012, which it is using to make improvements to Cross Street, lower Miller Street and lower Spring Street, as well as to the entrance to Belfast Common on Miller Street.
As part of the proposed overhaul of Cross, Miller and Spring street, a designated “slum and blight” area, the city is looking at constructing sidewalks, installing additional street lights and constructing about 40 new parking spaces.
In addition, the entrance to Belfast Common would be made more inviting with the addition of a small plaza and the possible installation of a sculpture. The proposed improvements to Cross Street would adjust traffic patterns by allowing two-way traffic from the intersection of Main Street to the municipal lot on Cross Street, while traffic would be reduced to one way from the municipal lot out to the entrance of Belfast Common.
At intersection of Cross Street and Main Street, another small plaza would be created with benches and signage to direct people towards Belfast Common.
Currently, the city's right-of-way along Cross Street is 33 feet wide, which would not accommodate the addition of on-street parking and the construction of sidewalks. To address that issue, the city approached three separate property owners who own parcels of land along the street.
Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge explained to councilors he doesn't want to begin the final designs for the project until the city has acquired the easements.
According to City Manager Joseph Slocum's report, two of the property owners agreed to grant the city easements and the third property owner is acquiring 10 feet of the city's 66 foot right-of-way along lower Miller Street in exchange for 11 to 12 feet of land along Cross Street.
Slocum stated in his report the land swap would still allow the city to have on-street parking on both sides of Miller Street between Cross Street and Front Street. In addition, the city did not have to pay any money to acquire the land easements.
Kittredge said the final project design and budget will be brought before the council at a future date. Preliminary estimates indicate the project could cost as much as $627,165.
City Councilors unanimously approved the request to authorize Slocum to enter into agreements with the three property owners on Cross Street to acquire the easements.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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