October 10, 2008

Bangor Seeks $750,000 for Riverfront Park


BANGOR - The city is planning to apply for $750,000 in state funding, the final piece of a $2.4 million investment to create a park and open space area along the Penobscot River.

The funds, part of $5 million approved by voters last November, require a 2-to-1 match by the city. Thanks to federal grants already secured, Bangor has the matching funds.

The grant for a state riverfront community bond was discussed this week at the city's business and economic development meeting, which supported the efforts. A public hearing also will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at Bangor's regular City Council meeting. The application deadline is Oct. 24.

"These funds really fit our plan for waterfront development and we're hopeful the state agrees," Community and Economic Development Director Rod McKay said Wednesday.

The city has been working on revitalizing its riverfront area, home to the popular American Folk Festival, for many years. One of the final pieces is preserving open space by creating a multiuse park and trail system for bikers and pedestrians on the 12-acre plot. Also envisioned for the park are play areas for children, a skating rink, picnic tables and benches, along with space for an outdoor amphitheater.

The park would run from the end of Railroad Street downriver toward the Veterans Remembrance Bridge, between the railroad tracks and the riverbank.

City Engineer Jim Ring said that despite the fact that the park does not require any actual construction, a number of remediation efforts are required, which is where a bulk of the money will go. Ring said the park has enormous potential for city residents and for visitors.

Heather McCarthy, director of the American Folk Festival, also praised the park plans.

"I think we're all looking forward to when [the riverfront] looks like this," she said, standing in front of a large landscape design plan. "Our stakeholders are very much in support of this."

The city already has a contract with Shadley Associates, a Massachusetts landscape architect firm, to design the riverfront park.

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