WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday expects to hear an update on preliminary plans for a federal $7.37 million BUILD grant to change the traffic pattern on Main and Front streets and improve sidewalks, intersections and other aspects of the downtown and make it safer.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Chace Community Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons downtown.

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration officials will be at the meeting to talk about the project.

“I just want to make sure people understand this is real — this is going to happen,” Roy said. “We’re very, very fortunate that MDOT has stepped up to do administration of this grant, because we are the recipients. MDOT has the capability and expertise and everything else to administer a project of this size.”

Ernie Martin, senior project manager for DOT’s Highway Program, will discuss objectives of the grant, according to Roy.

“We’re trying to re-route a lot of through traffic out of downtown, try to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly with sidewalks, crosswalk improvements, and provide a change to two-way traffic, which we believe will be an incentive for growth for downtown businesses,” Roy said.

The actual change to two-way traffic from one-way on Main and Front streets will not start until the summer of 2021, according to Roy; but in the summer of 2020, the Kennebec Water District plans to remove and replace old water mains in the middle of Main and Front streets, he said. The water main work is not part of the BUILD grant program work, he noted.

“This is going to be very significant next summer, a year from now,” Roy said. “The roads will be all torn up and reduced to one lane.”

He said Roger Crouse, general manager of the water district, will be on hand Tuesday to discuss that project. He said the water mains were installed in 1903 and 1905.

The Waterville City Council expects to get an update Tuesday on plans to change the traffic patterns on Main and Front streets and other upgrades made possible by the $7.37 million federal BUILD grant the city was awarded. Current traffic flows along Main Street, shown here on Sept. 1, 2017, will be disrupted further by the Kennebec Water District’s plan to replace water mains more than 100 years old on those streets. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

In other matters, the council will consider taking final votes on a request by Golden Pond Wealth Management.

The council on May 21 took first votes to change the zoning ordinance to allow Golden Pond, at 129 Silver St., to expand and to include in the ordinance a condition that vehicles would enter and exit the site only from Silver Street and not Wilson Park.

Brian Bernatchez, senior partner at Golden Pond, said the business, which has been on Silver Street 16 years, has grown and wants to expand its 3,000-square-foot building on the Wilson Park side by about 2,000 square feet. It now serves 500 clients and has eight staff members, he said. Golden Pond is at the corner of Silver Street and Wilson Park.

However, Wilson Park residents said that while Golden Pond is a good neighbor, they are concerned about an expansion, which would be visible from Wilson Park, and the building would be vulnerable being occupied by a large business if Golden Pond ever sells it. Gail Carlson said she was speaking on behalf of her neighbors who are opposed to a zone change. Wilson Park, she said, is a quiet residential, dead-end street that is unique, and residents pay a premium in taxes there.

The accounting firm that was in the building before Golden Pond bought it also tried to expand, but residents fought it. The Planning Board sided with the homeowners, Carlson said. She said Bernatchez bought the property knowing what the restrictions were.

The Planning Board on May 6 voted 4-0 to recommend that the council approve a change to the definition of “professional office” in the ordinance to include financial services. Board members Alek Fortier and Tom Nale abstained from voting on the request.

The council on May 21 voted 7-0 to change the definition to include financial services. Councilors also voted 7-0 to include in the ordinance a condition that vehicles will enter and leave the business only from Silver Street and not Wilson Park.

On May 6, the Planning Board voted 3-1 to recommend that councilors amend the contract zone at 129 Silver St. to include the condition that vehicle access and egress would be allowed only from Silver Street. Fortier and Nale abstained, and board member Cathy Weeks voted against the request.

Councilors discussed at length May 21 whether the language of the zoning changes requested for Golden Pond’s expansion is appropriate and what the zoning changes would mean in the future — not only for the building at 129 Silver St. but also for that area of the street in general.

Councilors said that when they take final votes on the request, they will be armed with more information and have ideas for possible further amendments to the ordinance.

On Tuesday, the council will consider ratifying a three-year collective bargaining agreement between the city and National Fraternal Order of Police for the Waterville patrol officers, including about 20 officers and detectives, according to Roy. He said the plan calls for a 3% increase in pay, with changes to their health insurance that would include a less costly plan for the city and employees.

The council also will consider contracting with CES Inc. for engineering services for $31,500 for redesigning The Concourse parking lot downtown. The funding for the engineering work would come from Colby College.

Councilors will consider changing the city’s electronic communications and file retention policy to say all official city communication will be conducted through email accounts provided by the city’s Information Technology Department.

Councilors will discuss a request for the sale of property off Airport Road.

They also will consider approving food, liquor and special amusement licenses to Itali-ah, doing business as Lion’s Den Tavern, at 74 Main St.; take a final vote on whether to sell 15 South Grove St. to Kirk Boucher for $3,137, $2,413 of which is for back taxes and $724 of which is to cover the city’s legal fees to deed the property back to Boucher, according to the order; and take a final vote on whether to amend the city’s licenses and permits ordinance to include a reference to the seasonal concession policy.

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