MILLINOCKET, Maine — The town should have a new $625,000 walking and biking trail along Millinocket Stream by late fall 2010.
The Town Council voted 6-0 Thursday to approve entering into a contract with the Maine Department of Transportation to build the trail, which will run about eight-tenths of a mile along both sides of the stream between Stearns High and Granite Street schools.
The town’s plan calls for spending $500,000 in federal grants, $80,625 in DOT funds and $44,375 in town funds, of which some will be in-kind work done by town workers, the council’s order states.
“I am pretty excited to see this come forward,” Town Councilor David Cyr said Thursday. “I am in hopes that this will spark the grant application for the Forest Avenue Park to go alongside the stream because I think the two items go together quite well.”
Council Chairman Scott Gonya wanted to ensure that the biking and walking trail would not interfere with any authorized ATV usage in the area or near the trail. He wanted to avoid accidents. Every day, ATV operators ride the informal trail near the high school that the new trail will trace, Councilor Michael Madore said.
“The police are trying to be as diligent as possible. … I am hoping there will be some way to solve this problem so there will not be an accident,” Madore said.
The trail could be partitioned or widened to allow ATV use — if both passageways are kept separate, perhaps by a barrier, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.
Resident John Dicentes wasn’t against the trail, but wondered why the town would build it when roads need repair, particularly Congress Street, where Dicentes lives.
Originally acquired by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud as a federal grant for town use several years ago, the $500,000 must be used for recreational purposes, town officials have said.
Congress Street is due for repaving, but town officials opted to wait for the trail project to avoid repairing the same road twice, Conlogue said. That repaving is scheduled for next fall.
The next step, Conlogue said, is to hire an architect or engineer to complete the trail plan. That should happen within three months, he said.
The Forest Avenue Park is a separate matter.
At Cyr’s urging, Millinocket in February applied for a $345,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant that would pay to revitalize what he has called Forest Avenue Park — a patch of land at Central Street and Forest Avenue overlooking Millinocket Stream.
Cyr for several years has hoped that the town could create a park from a roughly 2-acre patch of alders and scrub brush on Forest Avenue near the stream and the Central Street bridge. His plan: to remove the present growth; use fill provided by Public Works workers to bury the Forest Avenue culverts and elevate the park out of the river’s flood plain; and level, seed and replant the area to create a park.
If the grant comes, the work would cost the town nothing except possible in-kind services provided by Public Works, Cyr has said.
Town officials await word on the application.