The idea of calling wide swaths of the downtown waterfront “slum and blight” areas didn’t sit well with members of the Belfast City Council — several voiced strong objection to the antiquated terms Jan. 4 — but they were willing to go with it for the sake of a state grant application to fix up the long neglected areas.

City Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge pitched the proposal to the Council Tuesday night, explaining that two areas of Front Street — one between Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Belfast Maskers theater and a second stretching south from Main Street to Spring Street — could qualify for a Community Development Block Grant worth up to $150,000, but only if they were designated “slum and blight.”

The CDBG “slum and blight” designation requires at least 25 percent of buildings in the area be deemed “deteriorating” and public improvements “in a general state of deterioration.” Other traits include “a predominance of buildings which are conducive to ill health, the transmission of disease, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency or crime…” due to combinations of factors including dilapidation, deterioration, age or obsolescence, overcrowding, inadequate street layout, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, among other factors.

Kittredge said the two zones qualify and are not eligible for other CDBG funding. City Manager Joe Slocum added he has talked to representatives of several businesses in the area, including Penobscot McCrum and Consumer Fuels, who approved of the designation for the sake of applying for the grant.

To qualify for the grant, the Council must submit a letter of intent indicating specific areas to be improved by March. City Planner Wayne Marshall offered four options including the intersection at Front and Pierce Streets, a contribution to the construction of the proposed coastal walkway currently in the works and sidewalk improvements along either Front Street or Cross Street.

The council picked the latter three goals, placing improvements to the intersection of Pierce and Front Streets at the bottom of the list, and upon Marshall’s request voiced several hopes for what could be done with the money.

Councilor Roger Lee said he favors building new sidewalks along portions of Front Street north of Main Street — an idea seconded by Councilor Marina Delune — and Councilor Mike Hurley said he would like to see streetlights in that area. Several council members expressed interest in improving Cross Street, which they see as a highly-used corridor between the downtown commercial district and the park lands of Belfast Common and Steamboat Landing.

The Council approved the designation and the grant application.

In other business, the Council:

• Heard from Regional School Unit 20 Superintendent Bruce Mailloux, who predicted that cuts to Medicaid reimbursements, state general purpose aid and the loss of stimulus funds in the coming year would leave the district facing a $1.9 million shortfall in 2011-12. Mailloux said final state numbers won’t be known until late January or early February. Meanwhile, the RSU 20 board of directors is currently conducting preliminary budget meetings.

• Approved revised harbor usage fees. According to Harbormaster Kathy Messier the only change to the fee schedule is all waterfront property owners will be charged for a mooring.

• Approved a first reading of a proposed ordinance change to define who is considered a shorefront property owner for mooring permits. Messier said nothing will change and the intended change is “cleaning up the ordinance to be consistent with state law.”

• Approved a request by the city’s Pedestrian Hiking and Biking Committee to add a city councilor to the group’s ranks, appointing Councilor Eric Sanders. Mike Rausch, who serves on the Harbor Committee, objected to councilors serving on committees. He said with two councilors on a committee, as is the case on the Energy and Climate Committee, on which both Marina Delune and Roger Lee serve, councilors would need to sway only one additional council member to win a vote on a committee recommendation. Several on the council agreed there might be a conflict, but the question was tabled for discussion at a later date.

• Removed, at the request of the city manager, an agenda item request for an executive session to discuss legal rights, litigation, etc., and economic development.