When Gardiner officials meet this week, they will consider whether to join Johnson Hall in applying for a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission for improvements to the historic building and sidewalk access.

Johnson Hall officials are proposing to add a ramp to the Mechanic Street entrance to give performance groups easier access, some upgrades to Mechanic Street and restructuring of the sidewalk at the top of the Johnson Park steps.

The grant requires a 20 percent local match, which could be an in-kind donation of work.

City Mananger Christine Landes said Tony LaPlante, the Public Works director, got one estimate for the city’s portion of the project at $17,500.

“If we do the work ourselves, it might be a little less,” Landes said.

In 2018, the commission awarded $2.9 million for projects in Maine, including $2.4 million in infrastructure grants.

The Norther Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that was created in 2008 with federal funds to spur development that alleviates economic distress and positions the region for economic growth. Its territory extends from parts of Maine through northern New Hampshire and Vermont to northern counties in upstate New York.

Plans for the renovation of Johnson Hall are already underway.

In September 2016, officials at the historic opera house moved into fundraising mode when Kennebec Savings Bank announced it was committing to buy all the historic tax credits the project had qualified for and offered both construction financing and pledge financing packages. In all, officials expect to raise about $4.9 million for the project.

Since then, Johnson Hall has reached a series of intermediate goals and is closing in on the end of its fundraising project. That money is earmarked for renovating the upper 400-seat theater, building a lobby and concession area on the second floor along with performers’ dressing rooms and green rooms, and building a full-service box office and foyer on the ground floor.

The Gardiner City Council is also expected to:

• Consider instructing the Ordinance Review Committee to review an allowed use change to the High Density Rural District/Quimby Field proposal from Corey Gero

• Hear a presentation on the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center by Mike Miclon

• Hear a presentation on the redevelopment of the former T.W. Dick parcels on Summer Street from Michael Lyne of Developer’s Collaborative

• Award tax-acquired property bids for 57 Mt. Vernon St., 21 Adams St. and 210 Costello Road

• Review samples of food sovereignty ordinances

• Accept the minutes from the March 6 meeting

The Gardiner City Council meets 6 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chamber at 6 Church St.

 

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632
[email protected]
Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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