June 21, 2018
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City workers to start early steps of Bangor West Side revitalization before winter

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The city’s Public Works crews hope to start chipping away at the early stages of a revitalization project for Bangor’s West Side Village before snow falls.

Public Works Director Dana Wardwell ran down the “to-do” list for city councilors during a Monday night Infrastructure Committee meeting.

The first priority will be clearing brush and trimming trees in Second Street Park and surrounding private properties, provided the owners give the city permission. Public works also will look to hire a private contractor to raise tree canopies along streets in the West Side Village, an area that stretches from Main Street to Third Street and Buck Street to Union Street.

Public Works also will build an 8-foot-wide paved sidewalk through Second Street Park from Second Street to Shaw’s supermarket. That path will be edged with street lights, similar to those on the Bangor Waterfront. The tree work is expected to cost about $57,000 and path and lighting portion about $130,000, according to Wardwell.

The hope is that this work will make Second Street Park inviting and attract more families from the area and bring more and better use to the park. Residents in the past have said they feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the park because of poor visibility.

“We feel pretty confident that we can get that work done this fall,” Wardwell said.

Also this fall, Public Works will solicit contracts to replace a 22-foot-deep manhole and several sewer lines at the intersection of Sanford and Cedar Streets; as well as private sewers that are in poor condition on First Street, according to the city. Other underground infrastructure projects and inspections are planned for Sanford and Warren streets.

Some underground utilities infrastructure in the West Side Village portion of the city is well over a century old.

During winter, Wardwell said the city would begin developing a work plan for spring and summer. That work will include a series of paving and curbing projects, new sidewalks, water and sewer projects, and more.

All these projects have been budgeted, and many are funded through Community Development Block Grants.

The city hopes these improvements and the ones to follow, such as the addition of a median and pedestrian improvements on Main Street, will give a boost to the neighborhood and ease problems cited by residents in the area ranging from crime to failure of property owners to keep their buildings up to code.

As the project continues, the city won’t just be determining its success or failure through anecdotes, but rather will use geographic information systems to map out changes and track data about how the neighborhood evolves as projects are completed, according to City Manager Cathy Conlow.

If, for example, the city installs new street lights and improves sidewalks on a street and that section of the street then sees a reduction in the number of vacant houses or if the changes in Second Street Park spark a reduced crime rate in the area, the city will be able to pinpoint those changes. The city could then use this data to help it plan future projects in other parts of the city.

The city will host a series of meetings with neighborhood residents about the plans starting in November after the City Council has a chance to approve the early stages of the project. Those meetings have yet to be scheduled.

“We’re really excited to get out to the neighborhood and start talking about the plan,” Economic and Community Development Director Tanya Emery said Monday.

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