Brewer takes steps to improve N. Main Street

Posted Aug. 16, 2009, at 9:54 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — To get the federal financial ball rolling, city councilors agreed last week to sign an agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation to make safety improvements to the North Main Street corridor.

“That gets the money going,” City Manager Steve Bost said Sunday. “It triggers the federal highway funds.”

The plans to improve the North Main Street corridor, the stretch of roadway between Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and Penobscot Bridge, include aligning a street crossing that has the city’s highest crash rate and addressing Americans With Disabilities Act problems with the sidewalks, he said.

“There is still a considerable amount of design work to do,” Bost said, adding the project is “designed to make the entire area more traffic-friendly and more pedestrian-friendly.”

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The biggest and most expensive parts of the proposal call for aligning Betton Street with Parker Street and adding a traffic signal and creating a parking lot where Betton Street is now located.

Original plans to remove parking on North Main Street and other proposed changes were scrapped after complaints from area business owners.

In the agreement signed Tuesday, the state agrees to spend a maximum of $1,152,986, or 90 percent of the project, with the city picking up the remaining 10 percent and the cost of any additional improvements added on.

Approximately $650,000 is left from the original $1.75 million 2005 federal transportation bill earmark that was issued to Brewer to improve South Main Street, also known as Route 15, which the city would like to use for the North Main Street corridor project.

Tuesday’s vote was just to begin the process of acquiring the funds to pay for the project, Bost said.

“This is not slated to begin until 2010,” he said.

Later in the meeting, councilors shot down a proposal to pay for a portion of the improvements needed to the end of Abbott Street, using the leftover 2005 earmark, but did agree to discuss the issue in the future, Assistant City Manager James Smith said Friday.

During Tuesday’s meeting, councilors also:

ä Recognized Brewer police Sgt. Arden Jones for his 25 years of dedicated service to the city.

ä Designated September as National Alcohol and Drug and Addiction Recovery Month.

ä Hired Brewer Fence Co. to create an outdoor ice rink for $22,908.

ä Agreed to refund the Ellen M. Leach Memorial Home $96,655 for taxes it overpaid with the understanding that operators of the upscale senior housing facility pay its unpaid 2009 taxes using the money. The city lost its battle with the Leach Home over property values and must pay back approximately $291,000 in property taxes overpaid in the past five years. This is the third tax abatement the council has issued since the State Board of Property Tax Review made its decision in January.

ä Hired Mid-Atlantic Salt of Pennsylvania to provide rock salt for $113,220 for 1,700 tons and S.H. Bridges Inc. construction to complete the Jefferson Street sewer separation project.

ä Increased sewer rates from $6.90 to $7.24 per 100 cubic feet. Starting in September, the first 1,000 cubic feet of sewage will cost $72.40 for residents and each extra 100 cubic feet would be an additional $7.24. Business customer rates increased from $82.80 to $86.88 for processing the first 1,200 cubic feet of sewage.

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