April 05, 2020

Lily-Tulip design unveiled> Oval open space, playground part of plan for Old Town site

OLD TOWN — A preliminary master plan for the now vacant Lily-Tulip industrial site calls for a large oval open space framed by trees, a playground, a meeting place for teen-agers, bandstand and places for parking.

The site would be flanked by commercial space and parks and laced throughout with paths and river walks.

The latest design for the former industrial site was the subject of a City Council workshop Thursday night with Bar Harbor landscape architect Sam Coplon.

Last fall, the site was the focus of an extensive environmental cleanup. In addition to the demolition of several buildings, the project involved the removal of asbestos, underground fuel tanks, petroleum-contaminated soil, and transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls, which have been linked to cancer.

The 4-acre site sandwiched between North Main Street and the Penobscot River is ripe for redevelopment. City officials see it as key to the communitywide effort to revive downtown, which has fallen victim to the creation of Interstate 95 and the Bangor Mall.

Coplon, the city’s consultant for the reuse effort, presented a proposal incorporating the basic elements residents said were important in the site’s reuse — connections to the river and various downtown features; commercial “magnets” aimed at drawing people downtown; and recreational uses.

To accommodate the community’s desire to include money-making opportunities at the site, Coplon incorporated slots for commercial buildings of 5,000 and 3,600 square feet at the north end of the parcel, and space for a 9,000-square-foot building that could house commercial or mixed uses at the south end.

Coplon estimated that redeveloping the site would cost $900,000. The work, which could be done in five or more phases over several years, includes earthwork, stabilizing the shoreline, loaming and seeding, building parking lots and paths, landscaping and building a bandstand, playground and a place where teen-agers could gather.

The total does not reflect any commercial development. City staff said earlier that this aspect likely will be left to the business community.

During the public comment period after Coplon’s presentation, Jo Eaton of the Penobscot Riverkeepers expressed concern about plans to provide river access for canoes and kayaks. An experienced boater, Eaton said that boat access at the Lily-Tulip site was far too challenging for novices because of strong currents, a railroad trestle, ledges, narrow points and other obstacles.

This is among the suggestions that city officials said they would keep in mind as they continue work of the reuse effort.

City councilors and staff members said they plan to continue to gather public comment for the final master plan. Once the community has reached consensus on how the site would best be used, officials will begin work on a construction plan, the next level of design.

Councilors directed city staff to begin the search for grant programs for which the project might be eligible.

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