BELFAST, Maine — The thick hedgerow of arborvitae by Steamboat Landing Park has been dug up and heavy machinery is fired up — all steps in the process of making the long-planned-for Belfast Harbor Walk become a reality.
Belfast City Planner Wayne Marshall said that construction should be largely completed on a sizable chunk of the waterfront walkway by mid-June. That segment, a 10- to-12 foot wide asphalt walkway extending about 2,100 feet from Thompson’s Wharf to Heritage Park, will be part of a larger path that links the Armistice Bridge with Steamboat Landing Park.
Altogether, the $1.5 million pathway will stretch more than half a mile and should become a major city attraction for walkers, cyclists and joggers, according to local officials including Marshall. Over the years that city planners and others have been dreaming of and figuring out how to build the project, there have been major changes along the waterfront, including the creation of Front Street Shipyard where the crumbling shell of a former sardine packing plant used to be.
The walkway — which links such local must-see sights as the footbridge, Belfast Harbor, a restaurant, shopping district and the waterfront parks — should help pull together some of the community’s different elements with good street lighting, benches and informational signs. Something else that is interesting, Marshall said, is that the way that part of the path will be a wooden boardwalk that runs over the water by Front Street Shipyard. The city still needs to build the final connector between the footbridge and the boardwalk that the shipyard has constructed. That 15-foot-wide wooden section will have an elevation change of six feet, Marshall said, and is likely to be finished closer to the end of the summer.
Workers have been busy in the last couple of weeks removing the arborvitae at Steamboat Landing Park as well as some trees on Front Street and part of a nearby concrete wall. The removal of the tall hedge was done to open up ocean views from Front Street and also allow for “visual connectivity” between Belfast Common and Steamboat Landing Park, Marshall said.
He’s heard from a handful of people who were upset about the removal of trees, as well as from others who are happy that the walkway is finally under construction, he said. Altogether, the city planner expects the project to be completed at the end of October.