Downtown Revitalization Project authorized to go out to bid

Project largely financed through Community Development Block grant
By Ben Holbrook | Apr 23, 2014
Source: File Image

Belfast — City officials authorized putting the Downtown Revitalization project out to bid, and to have officials explore possibly financing options for Belfast's portion of the cost.

The proposed scope of work for the project includes constructing approximately 45 on-street parking spaces; constructing 1,400 linear feet of crosswalks and sidewalks; adding new pedestrian-scale lighting; adding new drainage and water lines; constructing a gateway area; and adding benches at the Cross Street and Miller Street entrance to Belfast Common.

A portion of Cross Street — from the Cross Street Parking lot south to Belfast Common — will be converted to one-way traffic, while the portion from Main Street to the parking lot will remain two-way traffic.

According to the most recent estimates, the project will cost $601,040, which was less than the initial project budget of $807,472.

The project will be paid, in part, through a Community Development Block Grant totaling $500,000. After deducting design and engineering fees, the city has $433,500 of the grant remaining. In addition, the cost estimate for the project does not include a $75,000 cost associated with redirecting storm water along Cross Street to eliminate the need to use an existing rock drain that passes through a portion of a lot owned by Penobscot McCrum.

There is also an additional cost of about $5,000 associated with upgrading an existing 15-inch storm drain on Spring Street to a 24-inch storm drain.

In total, the city could be expected to contribute $167,540 of its own funds, which could be paid for through a bond. The bond could then be paid off with revenues from the city's Downtown-Waterfront Tax Increment Financing District.

However, Kittredge noted the city's portion of the project could increase or decrease depending on the bids received. Also, if the city chooses to pursue the optional costs associated with redirecting storm water and upgrading a storm drain, the cost will change.

The project is expected to go out to bid in early May and the Belfast Water District is likely to begin work that month, as well. City Manager Joseph Slocum estimated the city's portion of the work on the project would not begin until late June with construction to continue through the summer and into the fall.

While the design and engineering plans are nearly complete at this point, City Manager Joseph Slocum explained the committee that worked on the project is waiting for a light fixture to arrive so that it can be set up and vetted by councilors before more are ordered.

Slocum said he believed the fixture has a recessed light — no globe — so that the light is directed directly down to the ground.

Councilor Mike Hurley then commented that it was hard to believe how difficult it has been to get a light fixture sent to the city for review in a timely manner.

“Who would ever imagine how hard it is to get a light fixture?," Hurley asked.

Councilors unanimously approved putting the project out to bid in May. They did not take any action in regard to funding, as Slocum explained the city will explore options for financing the work before bids arrive.

In other business

Councilors accepted a $1.9 million Economic Development Administration Public Works grant. The money will be used to reconstruct an enhance a portion of Front Street between Main and Pierce streets.

Kittredge was authorized to submit a grant application to the Federal Aviation Administration for funds to conduct a second phase of the Airport Master Plan update, and to set aside $7,466.10 from the Airport Runway Capital Reserve account.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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