ELLSWORTH, Maine — City water is now available at Ellsworth’s industrial park, and city officials hope that amenity will spur interest in some of the long-vacant lots in the park.
The city extended the water line 8,700 feet with a new water main from Lakes Lane along Route 1A, and added another 4,620 feet of new main in the industrial park. The new lines included water lines down Boggy Brook Road to the Hancock County Technical Center.
The project has been on the city’s radar for some time now, but has not been financially feasible before. City Manager Michelle Beal said Tuesday several factors came together to allow the city to extend the water lines at this time.
The Maine Department of Transportation rebuilt the same section of Route 1A during the past two construction seasons.
“We were able to save money [by] doing the 1A project while DOT was already in the road,” Beal said.
Also, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection provided $1 million toward the project because of groundwater contamination in areas of the industrial park, which prevented wells from being developed on many of the lots in the park. The DEP funds covered almost half of the project’s cost, Beal said, making it more affordable for the city.
Ellsworth also was able to obtain a very low interest rate on the borrowing it did to cover the remaining portion of the estimated $2.8 million project.
The project came in well under estimates, Beal said. The city saved enough money to be able to do another project on Water Street with the leftover funds.
The city still is working on replacing a small section of water main that was not done in conjunction with the DOT road project, but Beal said water is available to all of the lots in the industrial park. That, she said, will be a key to bringing businesses to the park.
The city owns property along Boggy Brook Road, where the city recreation fields are located, and the Ellsworth transfer station is located in the industrial park, but the city no longer owns any of the development lots in the park.
“The lots have all been sold, but they haven’t been developed,” she said.
The lack of city services has affected businesses’ interest in the park, Beal said. Some businesses have been reluctant to locate there without city water for fire protection or for industrial processes that required more water or pressure than a well could provide, she said.
“We really see this as an economic development tool,” she said. “Even though we don’t own any lots there, we can still market it as a development area.”
The city has promoted the industrial park as part of its effort to market what it calls the West Ellsworth Development Corridor, which essentially is the Bangor Road (Route 1A) area and includes the industrial park and the city’s business park.
Beal said she expects to discuss a citywide plan for economic development with city councilors when they meet in October. The recent extension of the water main likely will make the industrial park a key part of that plan.