BUCKSPORT, Maine — The town of Bucksport begins the new year poised to complete work along the waterfront.
At a recent meeting, councilors awarded a contract to R.F. Jordan in Ellsworth to complete the work at Peary’s Landing, located at the end of the Route 1 bridge between Bucksport and Verona Island and the focal point of the entrance to the downtown area.
The project will put an exclamation point on the transformation of that corner from an area that a few years ago housed old and deteriorating buildings into what officials hope will be an inviting gateway to the downtown area.
“Everything is in place for these downtown improvements,” Town Manager Roger Raymond said Wednesday. “This will improve the aesthetics of the downtown and the waterfront and make it more of an attraction to people crossing the bridge.”
The area underwent a significant change last year with the completion of the town’s $3 million collector sewer overflow project, which also prepared the groundwork for the coming enhancements. At the landing, the project includes construction of a pond featuring a waterwheel, fountain and a bridge. The waterwheel, Raymond said, is a link to nearby Tannery Brook, which once drove waterwheels that provided power to businesses along the brook.
The project also will include the addition of a cupola and a clock to the CSO building on the site.
The pond structure, Raymond said, will provide a focal point that, along with a planned Veterans’ Memorial, will provide an attractive gateway to the town. Work has begun on the memorial, and three flagpoles and the granite base for the monument are in place.
In a separate but related project, the town is working to extend the waterfront walkway from Peary’s Landing under the bridge to a point between the Irving station and the Hannaford supermarket. The path will tie the waterfront to Route 1 and to an existing sidewalk that will allow visitors to walk from Peary’s Landing to the famous Buck monument, a popular tourist attraction.
“People will be able to park at Peary’s Landing and walk to the monument, and they will also have access to other amenities downtown in the other direction,” Raymond said. “Anywhere along that walk, they’ll have a view of Fort Knox and the [Penobscot Narrows] bridge.”
Town crews have completed about 75 percent of the work on the path extension, which will lengthen the walkway by about 900 feet to make it a mile-long path.
“We’ve got it pretty much ready for paving and lights in the spring,” Raymond said.
The grant funds also will provide for enhancements along Main Street in the downtown area, including planters, and new signs in the shape of a sailing ship that will direct visitors to public parking areas and other downtown attractions.
According to Raymond, the project will complete work on the waterfront with the exception of additions to the plantings along the walkway. He said the town might look into opening the old holding cell area, which is located under a section of the old town office building. The cells date back to the late 1800s and might make a nice attraction for people visiting the area.
The walkway is one of three path systems the town has developed over the past several years. There is a 4-mile path at the town-owned Silver Lake property near the town garage, and a 2.5-mile section near Miles Lane. Raymond said the town would look into the possibility of linking all three sections in the coming year.
The most difficult part of that project will be dealing with drainage between Route 1 and Broadway near the Wenbelle Apartments. The town owns a narrow right of way between the two roads in that area, and if the drainage problems can be handled, the town could create a trail up through that right of way to link the waterfront and Main Street to the Miles Lane path.
Town councilors have hired Millet Associates to study the drainage problems there and at several other sites in town. The town will seek grant funding to address the problem.
Councilors also have awarded a contract to demolish and remove a building on Central Street and another contract to create a public parking lot on that property.
The parking lot, the Peary’s Landing projects and the work on Main Street are scheduled to be completed by the end of June, Raymond said.