June 24, 2018
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Howland tannery project gets $150,000 grant

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

HOWLAND, Maine — State officials announced the award Thursday of a community enterprise grant of $150,000, the maximum allowed, that will give the former Howland tannery property benches, lights and some landscaping along the Penobscot River, Town Manager Jane Jones said Friday.

The disbursement by the Maine Office of Community Development is the latest of about $1.025 million in grants awarded to the town as part of efforts to raze the tannery and develop the property as a combined recreation-business site to complement a fish bypass to be installed on adjoining property by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, Jones said.

“It is one more piece in a jigsaw puzzle,” Jones said of the grant. “It is a huge project for the community and an expensive project done in phases. This grant is another integral phase to it and we will be [installing the lights] at the same time that we are doing the razing of the tannery.”

The Community Enterprise Grant Program provides funds to assist small or microbusinesses and to provide streetscapes in downtown areas and business facade improvements, according to a page dedicated to the subject at maine.gov.

The lights, benches and landscaping work will go along a walking trail through the tannery property, Jones said. The razing of the building and its components is scheduled for the end of the month.

The tannery site is part of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s plans to build a fish bypass, green some tannery land and dig a channel for the bypass in a project designed to open nearly 1,000 miles of habitat to Atlantic salmon, alewives and other sea-run fish now blocked from migrating upriver.

The restoration group will begin taking down the Great Works dam in Old Town on Monday.

As part of the Howland project, town officials hope to develop once-contaminated land not occupied by the bypass. The cleanup began in March 2010. More than 50 tons of contaminated soil have been taken to the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.

Redevelopment of the tannery building has been among Jones’ top priorities since she became the town’s manager, succeeding the late Glenna Armour in the spring of 2009.

Simultaneously, the Maine Department of Transportation has been developing or executing plans to replace the Penobscot and Piscataquis River bridges that adjoin the tannery site.

Eight to 10 light poles will be installed along the trail, which might be paved. The trail will run from the tannery site to the Piscataquis bridge, Jones said.

“The ultimate goal is to provide a walking trail all the way around the fish bypass and down around the new Piscataquis River bridge,” said Jones. “It is a very unique site and I think [it will] be spectacular when done. But like any intricate project, it takes awhile to pull the pieces together, and that’s what we are doing.”

Follow BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. on Twitter at @NickSam2BDN.

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