HALLOWELL — City officials are hoping slight changes to an upcoming project at the state boat launch on Water Street could improve pedestrian access to the property.

Councilors directed City Manager Nate Rudy to meet with officials from the Bureau of Parks and Lands — part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry — to discuss adding a crosswalk from Temple Street to the exit of the boat landing. A project to modernize the boat landing is currently out to bid.

Councilor Diano Circo said the necessary change would be a curb “tip down” — a lowering angle at the end of a sidewalk — near the boat landing’s exit just south of the Lucky Garden. The change would also require about 15 to 20 feet of sidewalk, according to Rudy. Since the project would be done on state-owned property, the conservation department would have to approve the work.

The boat launch design was approved unanimously by the Hallowell Planning Board in June. Tom Linscott, director of the Boat Facilities Program for the Department of Conservation, presented the site plan during that meeting, according to meeting minutes.

During that meeting, Linscott said the current layout doesn’t allow for the launching of larger boats, but with the changes, more boaters may use the Hallowell launch than other launches in the area. The concrete boat ramp will also be replaced as part of the project.

During the June Planning Board meeting, Linscott said that a tree would be removed and about 7,000 square feet of new pavement would be added. He was not available for comment on Tuesday.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, resident Dave Wood rebuked the potential additional pavement and the loss of green space at the landing, which he said was routinely used as a public gathering place. He also advocated for a restroom and a dock parallel to the launch.

“We don’t need to expand the asphalt,” Wood said. “We don’t need to cut down trees. It’s a beautiful spot, why mess it up?”

Planning Board Chairperson Danielle Obery said Tuesday the loss of green space was discussed during the meeting, but the committee’s unanimous decision was indicative of the board’s approval of the design. The fence that sits at the Water Street edge of the property may be replaced, according to Linscott, but the department had no plans to touch it unless it was in bad shape.

A second motion by councilors Monday night authorized Rudy to enter discussions with the Maine Department of Transportation about a future project to reconstruct portions of Water Street north and south downtown, in hopes to add a sidewalk on the Water Street side of the launch.

Transportation department Project Manager Ernie Martin said Tuesday preliminary surveying has begun on the project, but design work has not been started. He said the project — which deals with portions of Water Street, between Maple and Temple streets, and the entrance of the Kennebec River Rail Trail to the Dairy Queen near the Augusta line — would likely be taken on in 2023.

Martin said he could “probably” fit a sidewalk by the boat landing without encroaching on the conservation department’s land, but he didn’t want to commit to building a sidewalk too early in the process. He said the project will likely be a reconstruction of the road and the addition of drainage to the road.

“There’s a lot of discussions that need to transpire,” Martin said. “Any time you deal with conservation property it comes with a lot of process.”

Circo said the transportation department can be “hesitant” about adding sidewalks, so the city “needs to be assertive … to make sure those items are included.”

Both of these add-ons could mean additional costs footed by the city.

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