HALLOWELL — The Down with the Crown Committee is working on a marketing campaign to promote the city’s downtown during the upcoming Water Street reconstruction project, and the group got a $5,000 pledge from the City Council to help with its efforts.

The committee — named for the crown in the road that will be removed during construction— wants to make sure every business survives the six-month construction period from April to October.

The Rev. Nancy Bischoff, of Cox Memorial United Methodist Church, is leading the marketing effort for the committee. She told the council that there has been good community support so far, but having additional financial support from the city would go a long way toward helping market Water Street businesses during construction.

The $5,000 will help the committee implement a soon-to-be-created marketing plan, which Bischoff said was starting to come together through meetings with community leaders and other stakeholders.

At a committee meeting Tuesday attended by about a dozen people, including Councilor Maureen Aucoin and City Manager Nate Rudy, Deb Fahy led a discussion about the activities being planned and ways the committee can get more community involvement.

One of the events planned is an “opening the street” event on April 7, the last Saturday before construction begins. It is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a pub crawl taking place afterward. Quarry Tap Room co-owner Chris Vallee is organizing the event, which will include games and live music.

There will be no construction during a period of a few weeks around the annual Old Hallowell Day celebration in July, and one of the major events during what the committee is calling the construction “cease-fire” is painting the street. Local officials, community leaders, construction workers, artists and the public will be invited to create unique artwork on Water Street.

There are also plans for a waterfront tour led by city historian Sam Webber, a scavenger hunt around Hallowell, riverside cleanup, burying a time capsule and a closing ceremony in October when the construction work is completed.

The group started a fundraising account to raise money to put on these events, and committee members are working on getting the committee registered as a nonprofit organization. Group leaders are hoping to sell fundraising bricks and raised $1,600 last week during a silent celebrity art auction. Local leaders, including Mayor Mark Walker, city councilors and other community members, created original pieces of artwork that were auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the committee. Fahy said the auction was a fun event and more money was raised than anyone expected.

The Maine Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct a 2,000-foot stretch of the busy corridor, which is also U.S. Route 201, beginning in April. It expects to complete the bulk of the work by October. Contractors will work Monday through Thursday from sunrise to sunset and from sunrise to 3 p.m. Friday. There may be five 24-hour work periods at the intersections of Temple and Water streets and Winthrop and Water streets, but that won’t be determined until the project is underway, according to Project Manager Ernie Martin.

The project went out to bid in late January, and Martin told the Hallowell City Council last Monday that bids will be opened next Tuesday. Construction is set begin April 9 on the east side — the Kennebec River side — of Water Street. Construction on the west side of the street is scheduled to begin July 30, and the work is due to be completed Oct. 26.

The Down with the Crown Committee will begin meeting twice monthly starting with its meeting at 6 p.m. March 13 at the Cox Memorial United Methodist Church. For more information, visit hallowell.org.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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