FARMINGTON — A Front Street sidewalk improvement project that may extend to West Farmington will be the first recommendation made to the Board of Selectmen on how to spend money from a new tax-increment financing district.

The newly formed Downtown TIF Advisory Committee agreed Monday to start applying for a grant and studying the costs of the project to learn what they can accomplish with their available resources and on what timetable.

The TIF district encompasses downtown Farmington and some additional outlying property. The money from the TIF district is earmarked for economic development. For the first time the town collected property taxes from the district this year, collecting $100,000.

The committee is recommending the selectmen submit the early paperwork for a matching Community Development Block Grant and send out a request for proposals to get the cost of engineering for a sidewalk project stretching from Front Street down toward West Farmington.

If the town’s application is successful, and the grant is awarded around August, it could increase town savings for the project to $400,000.

Committee member Tom Saviello, a Front Street business owner, said better sidewalks and street lighting along Front Street could improve the area.

“You have a gem there that you’re not taking advantage of,” he said.

Town Manager Richard Davis said Front Street is a high traffic road, and changes to the road could be made to slow down the cars passing through.

“An added advantage of slowing traffic down, besides just the safety factor, is that they can see that there are businesses there that they can patronize,” he said.

Members of the committee, a mix of town officials, business leaders and residents, also discussed other uses for the funds the 30-year TIF district will produce. Proposed capital improvement projects ranged from better parking in West Farmington to an ambitious $2 million Sandy River footbridge to connect downtown to West Farmington.

The footbridge has long been discussed by the town, and at one point enough funds were raised to conduct an engineering study, but sticker shock from the estimated cost put the project on hold.

“There is a world of possibilities. Of course, the main objective is to spur economic development,” Davis said.

Selectmen will review the recommendations at their Nov. 18 meeting and have the final approval on whether to approve the committee’s recommendations.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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