Belfast seeks slum and blight funds to revitalize downtown

Posted March 15, 2012, at 5:19 p.m.
Last modified March 16, 2012, at 5:43 a.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Belfast city officials are making a final push for a $500,000 downtown revitalization grant they say would help transform a long-neglected part of the city.

“We think this is the critical last piece of revival for Belfast,” Thomas Kittredge, the Belfast economic development director, said Wednesday. “We think we can move things forward.”

If the city beats out several other Maine communities for the Maine Community Development Block Grant funds, Kittredge said the money would be used to pay for street and infrastructure improvements.

The work would be done in the portion of Belfast bordered by Cross, Federal, Front and Miller streets that was designated as a “slum and blight” area by the Belfast City Council last year. It would include sidewalk construction, new lighting, an informational kiosk and signs, landscaping and nearly 40 new parking spaces.

The project would be done in the area that encompasses the Penobscot McCrum freezer plant, the former Vincent’s Restaurant and Consumer Fuel’s waterfront properties. While bordered to the east by the well-used Belfast Common city park, the property in question does have an industrial feel, Kittredge said.

“This area in between is not doing a good job connecting Main Street with the Common,” he said.

The improvements also would include erecting a gateway to the Common at the entrance located at Cross and Miller streets, making stormwater improvements along Cross, Miller and Spring streets and planting trees.

Altogether, the project is estimated to cost $750,000. Remaining funds would be matched with approximately $150,000 from a Communities for Maine’s Future grant which Belfast already has received and $100,000 from the city.

Kittredge said that a public hearing about the grant held earlier this month at a Belfast City Council meeting drew primarily positive comments.

“People were largely supportive,” he said. “We think it’s a good project. We’ll, hopefully, make a really good case to the state that we should be funded.”

No land would be acquired for the project, with all work being done on public rights of way, he said.

The application is due on March 30, and Kittredge said that he still welcomes suggestions or comments from the public.

Letters and comments can be sent by email to economicdevelopment@cityofbelfast.org. Thomas Kittredge can be reached at 338-3370, ext. 8. More information is located at www.cityofbelfast.org/downtown.

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