April 08, 2020

Orono plans more downtown work

ORONO — The Town Council agreed Tuesday night to use some of the money the town received as a gift from MBNA, the credit card company, as part of its local share when it applies for a Community Development Block Grant later this year.

The grant would be used to complete downtown improvements, which could not be done last year for lack of funds, according to town documents. The bulk of the unfinished work is aimed at addressing unsafe conditions for pedestrians.

The 1998 grant would allow the town to reconstruct sidewalks and build concrete crosswalks on Main Street and install light fixtures and planters.

By this spring, the town will complete the first phase of its current $465,182 program of downtown improvements.

Town staffers have proposed applying for a grant of $240,700, which would be matched by a $15,000 in-kind contribution of staff services and $33,140 from the MBNA fund, which now has a balance of about $52,000.

In other economic development work, the council voted to follow Bangor’s lead and formally endorsed a proposed east-west highway, linking Maine more effectively with the Canadian Maritimes and Quebec.

Councilor Phil Brown was chosen to serve as Orono’s municipal contact for the highway project.

The council also joined the growing number of area communities that are supporting a proposed joint venture between Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and Energy Pacific to be the local distributor for natural gas.

In other business, the councilors approved an employment contract with Police Chief Robert Mulhern, effective through Nov. 30, 1999, and named Karen Huber to Sarah Clark’s unexpired term as an associate member of the planning board.

The councilors granted a utility easement to John and Laura Tozer for the house they plan to build at the northeast end of Cedarwood Street, and approved a liquor license for Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant and Watering Hole.

They also agreed to prohibit, when necessary, vehicles bearing heavy loads from traveling on Spring Street, Bennoch Road from Main Street to the Old Town line and Forest Avenue from Main Street to Interstate 95. The restrictions are to remain in effect through May 1.

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