June 19, 2019

Brewer planning for park under new bridge

While state engineers design a replacement for the ailing Penobscot Bridge, Brewer officials plan an adjacent “gateway” to their city.

City Planner Thomas Kurth said Monday that a committee has been formed to explore the possibility of building a “pocket park” under the new bridge and next to the Rogerson Block, the building that houses Mitchell’s Trash and Treasures.

Looking onto the Penobscot River, the small park would feature trees, grass and paved paths, Kurth said. Picnic tables, benches and a dock for small boats might also be there. “The vistas are smashing,” Kurth added.

But building a park costs money, and Brewer cannot spare much of that at the moment.

“It’s not a good time to build parks,” Kurth said. “But it’s a very good time to plan parks.”

City officials hope that while the state builds the new bridge, it will reshape land eyed for the park according to the city’s wishes. Although the state has not made any such commitment, it has been receptive to the idea, Kurth explained.

Larry Roberts of the Maine Department of Transportation, chief of the replacement project, could not be reached Monday for comment.

On Tuesday the City Council is expected to authorize Manager Harold Parks to hire Mohr and Seredin Landscape Architects Inc. of Portland to investigate further the proposed site. The investigation budget is $5,500.

“If the state is going to put a bridge in there, we might as well make the most of the situation,” said Councilor Alan Whittemore. “The plan has merit.”

Linwood Lufkin, a member of the park committee who also serves on the Planning Board, said plans are preliminary. “At this point we’re loooking for ideas. We’re trying to establish a theme of some kind,” he said.

The replacement bridge will hold five lanes of traffic and will cost at least $16 million. Starting in the spring of 1993, bridge contruction will last two years.

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