BELFAST — City Council approved a proposed plan for improvements on Wight Street, including a meandering path and traffic-calming devices, during its July 19 meeting.

The council hosted an information meeting June 27 to hear from residents regarding the proposed project. The input provided by city residents was taken by the city’s engineer on the project, Mandy Olver of Olver and Associates Inc. in Winterport, and used to create three plans for the council to consider.

During the July 19 meeting, Olver presented the plans, which included two primary plans and a secondary plan based upon one of the two primary plans, which was dependent on whether the Waldo County Shrine Club would allow the city to place part of the meandering sidewalk on its property at the eastern end of Wight Street.

The two primary plans were a two-way street option and a one-way street option. Wight Street is currently a two-way street, but during the discussions June 27, several residents suggested making the road one way, specifically to try to slow down traffic.

Olver said the two-way street plan would consist of a 20-foot wide street and an 8-foot-wide multi-use path that would meander on the north side of the roadway. The one-way option would have a 14-foot-wide street and a similar 8-foot-wide multi-use path.

Under the two-way plan, 17 trees would be removed from the street to make way for the improvements. Two hydrants and two utility poles would also be removed. In order to help slow traffic, Olver proposed a three-way stop at the intersection of Wight Street and Tall Pines Drive. She also proposed putting a 22-inch speed table/raised crosswalk near the entrance to Belfast Acres.

Another traffic-calming concept proposed by Olver was to narrow both the east and west entrances to Wight Street to slow traffic entering from Northport Avenue and Congress Street, respectively.

The one-way proposal is similar to the two-way proposal, except for the width of the roadway and the number of trees, poles and hydrants to be either removed or relocated. Under the one-way proposal, only eight trees would be removed and one hydrant would be relocated. The locations of the stop signs and speed table would be the same.

There was an alternative two-way plan, which would remove 19 trees, including two very old trees on the Shrine Club’s property. The council and residents have both previously voiced a desire to retain as many trees as possible.

During a discussion of the proposed plans, Councilor Mike Hurley said that while the council had heard from a lot of residents about a possible one-way street, he felt the city would be creating another problem if it went with a one-way street. He said the problem is in which other street to designate a one-way street going the other way. He said he liked the two-way proposal that would only remove 17 trees.

Councilor Mary Mortier said she was aware of other communities that changed roads to one-way streets, commenting that those communities are now changing their minds and reverting back to two-way streets. She said residents wanted a one-way street as a way to slow down traffic, but the plans outlined in the two-way street proposal included several mechanisms to slow down traffic that she felt would be more effective than going to a one-way street.

Mayor Eric Sanders said the proposed upgrades to Wight Street could be the future for a lot of streets in Belfast someday. He said he understood the desire of the Wight Street residents to make their road a one-way street, but that the council must take a citywide view when making these types of decisions.

Upon request of Councilor Brenda Bonneville, City Planner Jon Boynton offered his opinion of the project proposals. His main concern was with the one-way street proposal. He said that if Wight Street were made a one-way street, the only real option for the other one-way street would be Salmond Street, which he described as unworkable. He also noted that changing to a one-way street would not guarantee that motorists would slow down; in fact, he suggested it could actually result in motorists going even faster. He said the proposed 14-foot-wide roadway is wider than state highway lanes.

After the discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the two-way plan that only removes 17 trees from Wight Street.