Belfast residents, speak now or forever accept the hooked lampposts, three-sided wooden kiosks and granite bollards of the Belfast Harbor Walk.

The city will hold its fifth and final public hearing Wednesday, Dec. 14 on the proposed design for a major portion of the pedestrian and bike promenade that would extend from Steamboat Landing to the footbridge, and in a later phase, to the East Side.

Construction on the downtown section of the Harbor Walk is expected to begin in the summer of 2012, but could start sooner. Either way, City Planner Wayne Marshall said at the Dec. 6 City Council meeting, the upcoming public hearing would be the last chance for residents to effect changes in the design of the walkway and related amenities.

The roughly $1 million cost of the Harbor Walk has been under discussion for several years but got a major kick start in 2008 in the form of a $250,000 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation, for which the city put up a $200,000 match. Other funding came through grants from Communities for Maine’s Future ($400,000 awarded in October) and the Maine Office of Community Development.

The current plan to start construction in June or July is based on the availability of MDOT funding. However, Marshall said the end segments of the walkway, at Steamboat Landing and Front Street Shipyard, could potentially be removed from the MDOT plan and put out to bid earlier using the other funding.

Marshall said the idea could bump up the construction schedule by around a month but said putting out multiple bids, and having potentially more than one contractor working on the Harbor Walk, could also be cumbersome.

Councilors asked how the construction would affect summer activities on the waterfront, including several festivals and a summer-long engagement with the Belfast Maskers theater group, which has requested to use Steamboat Landing for outdoor performances, as it has for several years.

Initially, the conversation leaned toward moving the construction schedule to avoid interrupting the summer events, but councilors Eric Sanders and Mike Hurley pushed to start the project, noting that summer events could successfully work around the construction or be temporarily relocated this year, if needed.

Hurley said he was wary of pushing the construction schedule back to some time after the major festivals because he didn’t want any reason for the groundbreaking to then be delayed further; say, until the following spring.

“That’s what orange tape is for,” he said. “Let people work around it.”

Hurley compared the scenario to last summer’s sidewalk repairs around downtown, around which residents and visitors were able to work without much trouble.

Councilor Roger Lee, who initially raised concerns about disrupting the summer activities, said his main concern was letting the various groups that use the parks know what to expect as soon as possible. City Manager Joe Slocum noted that the Council approved the request from the Maskers to use Steamboat Landing subject to the Harbor Walk construction schedule, adding that he has held off on making representations to any groups one way or the other.

The special Council meeting on the Harbor Walk design will be held Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Belfast Boathouse.

In other business, the Council:

• Voted to pay $5,000 to extend an option to purchase the network of dams and generation equipment owned by Goose River Hydroelectric until March 7, 2012. The city previously took an option on the hydropower operation with the idea that it could be used to offset electric costs for municipal buildings.

• Approved a first reading of a proposed amendment to the contract rezoning agreement with Front Street Shipyard owner DUBBA LLC that would allow for the addition of boat slips between the travel lift pier and a pier near the footbridge.

• Approved a first reading of a proposed amendment to the city’s code of ordinances that would ban the sale and use of fireworks. City Planner Wayne Marshall offered options based on ordinances in Rockland and Portland. The Council chose the simpler of the two (Rockland), which Marshall described simply as, “You can’t use ’em; you can’t sell ’em.” Fines would range from $200 to $ 400 for use and from $500 to $1,000 for sale. The Council had previously split on the issue but voted unanimously in favor of the ban.

• Authorized the City Manager to spend up to $45,000 to compensate property owners along the proposed Passagassawakeag Greenway hiking and biking trail, which is proposed to roughly follow the former Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad tracks. Slocum said several abutters had expressed an interest in the compensations, which are being offered to limit the city’s liability later, but Slocum said he did not have an exact figure. Joe Stearns, who owns land abutting the railroad, spoke at the Council meeting and said he was advised by his attorney not to take action on the offer before seeing plans for the trail.

• Discussed two vacancies on the Regional School Unity 20 board of directors. Belfast is allowed six seats on the board; four are currently filled. Slocum said one resident has taken out papers and another expressed plans to after the first of the year.