BELGRADE — A 13-year-old streetscape plan for Belgrade Lakes Village is back on the table.

The 1998 plan has been updated, approved by selectmen and submitted to the Maine Department of Transportation.

The Belgrade Lakes Streetscape Committee said some of the recommendations in the old plan, developed by Kent Associates in Gardiner, were no longer current or technically feasible.

A streetscape plan is used to provide efficient vehicle movement, sidewalk locations, crosswalks, building setbacks and other design aspects for streets including planting strips and tree species.

The state has upgraded much of Route 27 between Augusta and Farmington, with a 0.3-mile segment in the village one of the only exceptions.

“What we wanted to do is come up with something that would alleviate some of the problems with congestion and people speeding through the area,” said Michael Barrett, chairman of the Belgrade Lakes Streetscape Committee. “We also wanted to enhance some of the views and enhance friendliness towards pedestrians and boats and still recognize the historic quaintness and historical value, and I think we accomplish that.”

Though the project could possibly be funded in the transportation department’s 2014-15 capital work plan, Duane Scott, director of DOT’s statewide multimodal planning bureau, said the project is not yet official.

Scott said the streetscape committee was a town initiative to develop a plan for the department to consider.

“It’s a good report in the sense of it being a good shopping list of needs that the village has,” Scott said Tuesday. “Now the important thing is to look at the engineering feasibility and constructability of those ideas and what the cost estimate looks like.

“Once we look at all those needs, then there’s the realty of what is available in funding.”

Town Manager Gregory Gill said the state has held off renovating the village section of road because of concerns generated by residents.

“There are some big concerns with the way DOT does things,” Gill said. “My understanding is that DOT uses different funding sources for road reconstruction and there are guidelines attached to those funds. (DOT) now has regulations to follow that require sidewalks be 5 feet wide.

“If you do that,” he said, “it will take away a lot of property.”

He said street lighting is another issue: If lights are installed, they would have to be historically correct.

The committee’s report says the village is a residential and resort village with unique historic and cultural qualities.

“The road is the heart of the village, and any alterations will have the potential to impact the village’s character and goodwill,” the report says. “The unbuilt section of the major arterial highway carries close to 5,000 vehicles per day and is likely to increase over time.”

The report also says parking is insufficient, and in some cases, commercial businesses have no off-street parking available.

On-street parking aisles are narrow, with cars forced to pull onto sidewalks or protrude onto the traveled way.

There’s also a problem with runoff from paved area flowing directly into the ponds on either side.

Barrett said Scott acknowledged it would be impractical to install 5-foot sidewalks in some areas, especially near Day’s Store and the Village Inn.

“He’s willing to make exceptions where they can,” Barrett said. “They had a history of going to war with residents when they wanted to do work in the village, and they really don’t want to do that again. They’ll give a lot to make things work.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

 


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