Brewer News

Brewer waterfront trail taking shape, plans for future expansion

BREWER, Maine — The path of the new waterfront trail has been cleared and this week construction crews will fill it with gravel to prepare it for pavement that will go down in the next couple of weeks, City Engineer Frank Higgins said Tuesday.

“It starts at the former public works site on Hardy Street and extends all the way up to Wilson Street,” he said.

The Brewer City Council approved Tuesday night a temporary easement to the waterfront path with Michael Kessock, owner of Schooners Seafood & Steakhouse, and in exchange for the damage that is being done to the restaurant’s front lawn the city has agreed to plant a couple of trees, Higgins said.

Light poles for the approximately 1,900-foot trail are scheduled to be installed next week and the paving should be completed in about three weeks, Higgins said.

The city has a vision to someday create a citywide hiking and biking trail system, D’arcy Main-Boyington, the city’s economic development director, said Tuesday.

“There are two parts. The first part I’d like to see is the waterfront trail developed at least to connect the three bridges,” she said. “The long-term vision is to link to a trail that actually goes around the entire city.”

For that to happen, the city would need to build a waterfront trail to Felts Brook, which is where a future dirt path is planned by the Brewer Land Trust to provide access to lands protected for the public’s enjoyment, Main-Boyington said.

The approximately $200,000 trail construction and shoreline stabilization project underway is being done by R.A. Paradis and Sons Inc. of Newport and is funded by a 2005 transportation earmark for $1.8 million, she said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud spearheaded the earmark, which also provided Bangor with $1 million. The funding is open-ended and doesn’t list specific projects, but must be used for transportation improvements associated with the cities’ waterfronts. An earmark is a special request outside the normal funding process.

“There is still some money left,” Main-Boyington said of Brewer’s federal allocation.

Brewer city officials have been working for more than a year with the Maine Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, the agencies that oversee spending the funds, to use the leftover funds to redevelop the site of the former police and fire station on South Main Street into a parking area or other amenity for those using the trail, she said.

Each idea to spend the money must be approved by both agencies to move forward, Main-Boyington said, adding some of the federal funds have been used for design work.

“Whatever the balance is left over will be spent on the waterfront trail,” she said.

City Councilors Joseph Ferris and Arthur “Archie” Verow were absent from Tuesday’s meeting. During the meeting, the remaining three councilors also:

• Recognized two longtime employees — Sharon Watters, a 25-year employee of the finance department, and resident Paul Soucy, a 41-year teacher, coach and school administrator for high schools in Brewer, Bangor and Hermon.

• Recognized 190 volunteers who picked up trash during the 2013 Stream Cleanup and area businesses that supported the event.

• Honored Eagle Scout Michael Maybury of Boy Scout Troop 15 for building two 12-foot-long picnic tables and benches for the Water Pollution Control Facility to earn his Eagle Scout badge.

• Held a public hearing and later approved a malt and vinous liquor license for Donghang LLC, doing business as China Rose Buffett, at 274 State St. The restaurant is owned by Jiang Hua Zheng of Alexandra, La., and Xiu Bin Zhang of Freeport and may be ready to open on July 15.

China Rose is opening at the former Twin Super Buffet, which closed at the end of February shortly after then-buffet manager Mei Ya “Sandy” Zhang, 28, of Brewer was arrested and charged with money laundering and harboring illegal immigrants. She and six other family members were named in the federal complaint.

• Named the former Washington Street School property the Dougherty Recreational Complex.

• Put 87 Parker St. up for sale. The city acquired the property from James L. Kearns Jr., who has been operating a trash collection business at the site and refused to clean it up or pay his past-due city bills. Kearns signed a court settlement agreement in January but failed to abide by the rules and in March councilors voted unanimously to evict him and take possession of the property.

• Accepted $26,353 in asset forfeiture funds received from successful prosecution of five separate drug cases.

• Heard the Bangor Area Recovery Network, which moved into the old Pam’s furniture location in December, is hosting a Rally for Recovery event and march on Sept. 14 that starts at the Bangor Waterfront and ends at the B.A.R.N. at 142 Center St.

A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Nok-Noi Ricker