On the icy evening of St. Patrick's Day, city councilors were thinking of spring at their meeting as many agenda items dealt with warm weather projects and celebrations.

Park entrance

Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirier received council approval to seek grant funding for a project to enhance the entrance of City Park. According to a proposal circulated to councilors, the project aims to increase interpretation about park history, design and biodiversity, highlight the arboretum and increase native habitat.

A preliminary design proposed for the area around the flagpole included interpretive signs, native plantings and specimen trees, a retaining wall and granite flagstone. Reviewing mock-up designs, councilors urged Poirier to scale it back, reducing the number of signs and plantings. 

Mayor Walter Ash said a simpler design would allow the park to remain a "place where kids can get out and be kids." Councilor Neal Harkness advocated integrating the style of the wrought-iron entrance gate into the design.

Poirier said he would bring a design proposal to the council if the grant application is successful.

Street closings, events

Councilors considered a number of street closings for spring and summer events. Earth Days Waldo County, a collaboration of 350 Waldo County, Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, Belfast Transition, and many other local businesses and organizations, will hold its second-annual Earth Day parade and pageant Sunday, April 26. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. Waterfall Arts and proceed down High, Main and Front streets to the Boathouse, where a pageant will follow at around 2 p.m. This year the organizations are planning events throughout the city from April 22 to 26.

The council also approved a fee waiver for use of the Boathouse for the event, and in exchange the organizations involved will be doing a yet-to-be-determined community service project for the city. Suggestions included landscaping work at the Harbor Walk or adopting a section of the Rail Trail.

Another brief street closure will occur April 1 on Main Street between High and Church streets. From 4 to 4:30 or 5 p.m., the Parks Department and YMCA will be hosting a Hawaiian Day Belfast Celebration.

Use of Steamboat Landing was approved for the American Lung Association's Trek Across Maine fundraiser event scheduled for June 16. There will be limited access to a number of roads in Belfast from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, with Miller Street closed from High Street to Front Street.

Later in the summer, Belfast Co-op will close High Street from Main Street to Beaver Street for its annual Community Appreciation Day Aug. 22.

Pedestrian signs

Our Town Belfast received approval to post pedestrian signs at several downtown intersections in the hope they will direct more foot traffic to businesses on side streets.

"It is important to show there is more available to people than just businesses and activities located on Main Street," the proposal read, "and there is life beyond the traffic light in downtown Belfast."

Executive Director Breanna Bebb answered councilors' questions, which focused mainly on the new paint color proposed for the wooden trash bins where the signs would be mounted. The color of the trash bins and sign lettering will match the blue of the Belfast gateway signs at the entrance to the downtown area.

The signs' shape would also match the wave shape of the gateway signs. Bebb said specific business names would not be listed, and that the Planning Board will work with the organization to determine language for the signs.

Belfast Signs will create the PVC signs, and Our Town Belfast will cover the cost of up to 12 signs at $50 each. The city will cover the cost of painting the trash boxes as part of their regular maintenance.

In other business:

Michael Seally was approved as a full-time paramedic.

Changes to the harbor ordinance were approved, which include new definitions of resident and non-resident commercial fisherman and commercial business, and the stipulation that a mooring and moored float that is not used at least every two years may be deemed abandoned by the city and the mooring permit reassigned.