BELFAST — City councilors spent an hour at the close of their meeting Aug. 2 creating a list of road projects they should discuss with the Maine Department of Transportation, specifically focusing on several corridors around town that connect with Route 1.

Councilor Mike Hurley began the conversation saying the city needs to develop a better relationship with DOT regarding highway projects. In previous meetings the council had discussed ongoing issues the city has faced in dealing with DOT about repairs and necessary fixes to highways around the city.

Hurley presented a list of proposals for the council to bring up to DOT, including Route 52 coming into town and speed limits for Route 52. He also said Kelly Bridge on Swan Lake Avenue is a dangerous area. Hurley said he was concerned with the bridge where Route 3 meets Route 1 and why it had not been painted. Hurley also brought up the jug handle at the intersection of Route 1 and Northport Avenue. The last issue Hurley addressed was the fact that the lights on state highways around Belfast stay on continuously as opposed to changing to flashing yellow lights in some areas.

Mayor Eric Sanders weighed in on the bridge painting issue raised by Hurley and said the bridge effectively acts as the entry into town from Route 3 and he said the city looks like “dog poop” with respect to the look of the bridge for those tourists coming into town.

Councilor Neal Harkness said his primary concerns were the intersection of Route 141 and Route 1, the intersection of Congress Street and Route 1 and the intersection of Route 52 and Route 1.

Councilor Paul Dean said the intersection of Route 52 and Route 1 should be the city’s main priority; he also listed as a priority the intersection near Belfast Variety.

Councilor Mary Mortier agreed with her fellow counselors that the area by Belfast Variety, the intersection of Route 52 and Route 1, and Route 1 and lower Congress Street are important priorities. She also listed the intersection of Route 141 and Route 1 is an important priority. Mortier also said she did not want to have the jug handle at the intersection of Route 1 and Northport Avenue brought up again.

The plan for the council is to have the items listed during the meeting to be presented to DOT and to have DOT representatives attend a future meeting of the City Council where those items can be specifically addressed. No date has been identified for that discussion.

Historical photos in council chambers

Councilors spent almost 40 minutes during their Aug. 2 meeting discussing the installation of historical photos in the council chambers.

Councilor Brenda Bonneville said she was put in charge of the project with the idea of putting some finishing touches on the council chambers following recent upgrades to the room. She said the project began with a discussion of placing historical photos in the chamber. During the meeting, Bonneville presented a mock-up of what the room could look like. The proposed project included several historical photos which Bonneville said would be a good representation of the history of the city in either black and white or sepia tones.

In coming up with her presentation, Bonneville said she worked closely with Kevin Johnson, who is the photo archivist at the Penobscot Marine Museum.

During her portion of the discussion, Bonneville said she had heard a comment that the city should focus on issues such as housing in Belfast and not on making the council room look pretty. In response, Bonneville said she felt the city should be considering all sorts of things, including both big and small items.

Harkness said the way the council presents itself to the public is important. He said the original idea behind placing art in the council chambers was not to simply beautify the room, but to help promote local artists in support of the strong arts community in the city. He said he would prefer a rotating display of local artists and historical photos. With regard to Bonneville’s suggestion, Harkness said he thought the look was a little overwhelming, especially for those people who watch the council meetings via video.

Hurley said the housing situation in Belfast is in a crisis situation and that it should be at the front of every city council agenda. He said the council regularly uses the room as a work room and he felt the proposal by Bonneville was just too big. He said that while he loves the history of Belfast, he felt that the art should be more looking forward into the future, not into the past. He suggested the council simply make a decision one way or the other and put the matter to rest.

Dean said he liked Harkness’ idea of rotating artwork and felt that the project was an important one.

Sanders and Mortier said they favored a more historical approach to the photos. Mortier said she views the City Hall as a respected building with gravitas, which makes historical photos a more appropriate medium.

No concrete decision was made regarding what to put in the council chambers as the matter was only listed as a discussion item on the agenda. Bonneville said she would take the suggestions and return with a more specific plan.