The city unveiled a conceptual plan for enhancing parking, sidewalks, lighting and other amenities between Main Street and Belfast Common.

In 2012, the city received a $500,000 grant to improve the area of the downtown that is roughly bordered by Cross, Federal, Front and Miller streets, Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge explained to councilors Wednesday, Nov. 6.

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.

The city hired Sebago Technics to consult on the scope of the project and two of the company's representatives were present at Wednesday's meeting to discuss the initial design plans.

According to the preliminary design, 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.

The plan would also create an additional 33-34 parking spaces on Cross, Miller and Spring streets.

At the entrance to Belfast Common the Sebago Technics representatives suggested the city could install some type of structure that would serve as a focal point for pedestrians and draw them to the area. The sculpture would be visible from Main Street.

To help draw pedestrians to Belfast Common, the design concept presented to councilors called for the construction of a “node” that would have a kiosk and benches in an effort to draw attention to the improved pedestrian corridor leading to the park.

The Sebago Technics representatives also stated the conceptual plan would eliminate an access road that allows vehicles to drive into Belfast Common. However, because of the numerous events that are held in the park, a brick walkway would be constructed in place of the access road and removable bollards would be installed that would allow vendors to drive their vehicles into the common during an event.

Finally, the project would address a drainage issue on Spring Street between Cross Street and Front Street by installing a closed drain system.

When councilors began discussing the design concept presented by Sebago Technics, they were receptive to the initial plan, but questioned the installation of a sculpture at the entrance to Belfast Common.

Councilor Eric Sanders asked if any thought had been given to installing a fountain instead of a sculpture.

“A large fountain where the sculpture would be just would be a really class entrance to [Belfast Common],” he said.

Councilor Mike Hurley agreed that a fountain could be a nice addition to the park, but cautioned that such an installation would be costly.

An estimate for the construction costs associated with the project, which includes earth work, street lights, paving, signage and other amenities totaled $627,165.

Because the plan presented to councilors was only a concept, no action was taken during the meeting. City Manager Joseph Slocum said the project could be brought before the council again at a future date for further discussion.