News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 17, 2014
Castine Main Street design team to present complete plan
Public hearing set for April 22, 4 p.m.

Will downtown Castine get a facelift?

A new look for underneath and over Main and Water Streets in Castine, Maine is the subject of a proposed street design and upcoming infrastructure work.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

The long process of designing a new look for Main Street—and the longer process of creating a consensus to support it—may be winding down. The design team of WBRC Architects/Engineers of Camden, Olver Associates, and residential designer Ted Lameyer will present its proposed design to the community on April 22, after a draft presented on February 18 met with approval.

However, this is the second time in nearly a year that a “final” design has been presented to residents.

“I’ll never use the word ‘final’ again,” said Town Manager Dale Abernethy. “[But] it’s moving more towards a consensus.”

Last August, the first Main Street design, prepared by Olver Associates Engineers, was met with dismay by some, including Lameyer, who then presented an alternate design. In response to community support for Lameyer’s proposal, selectmen delayed starting the project and hired WBRC to lead a new redesign effort.

This also delayed, by about a year, the infrastructure work needed beneath Main Street, for which the town had contracted with Olver Associates and voters had signed off on.

However, a draft of the design based on the results of a taxpayer survey and presented by the design team in February was met with approval by most of those in attendance.

Does that mean the design is, really, near completion?

“One can only hope,” said Abernethy.

The new design harkens back to a Main Street of years ago, when elm trees formed a graceful canopy and residential walkways extended to the street.

While some residents are calling for power and utility lines to be buried—since the streets will be dug up to upgrade sewer and water lines—that is still “an outstanding issue,” Abernethy said, and will not be addressed at the April 22 hearing in detail.

The cost of burying the lines has been presented as low as $150,000 and as high as $1 million at different hearings. A cost analysis is being prepared.

One point raised by residents in favor of burying utility wires underground is that to approve a design that includes planting elm trees along Main Street precludes the power lines stringing up, down and across the street, as they will interfere with the natural growth of the trees.

The design plan can be viewed here.