April 06, 2020

Bangor panel OKs planning funds for redesign

BANGOR – Plans to overhaul West Market Square, that little triangular plot some consider the heart of downtown, got a boost Monday when a City Council panel authorized up to $59,100 for the next phase of planning.

Conceptual plans for the small triangle of land, bordered by Main and Broad streets and a row of historic commercial buildings, were drawn up by Steven Ribble, a landscape architect with Ames A/E, a Bangor-based architectural and engineering firm.

The idea was to develop a concept for the square, last updated in the early 1970s, which largely could be constructed by the city’s Public Works Department.

During a meeting Monday of the council’s finance committee, Finance Director Debbie Cyr said the nearly $60,000 for continued planning, including the creation of construction documents, will come from a capital account established several years ago for West Market Square.

“This is for design purposes only,” Councilor Peter D’Errico pointed out during the meeting.

The design concept, which calls for a total of four water pools and fountains and native granite, was put forth last summer during a series of public meetings at City Hall.

“The response of attendees was positive,” Sally Bates, a city development officer and liaison to Downtown Development Corp., said last month during a meeting of the council’s business and economic development committee, which has endorsed the design.

Still to be determined is how the city will fund the actual construction, estimated at $1 million.

“A combination of sources probably will be what’s needed, Bates said, adding that possible funding sources could include the Community Development Block Grant program or the recently created downtown and waterfront tax-increment-financing district.

“There’s an opportunity for private industries and companies to participate in making West Market Square much more beautiful for generations to come,” Bates said.

“For example, the fountain features, seating walls, benches and other amenities certainly will be available for naming opportunities,” she said.

When the project was discussed last month, Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick asked Ribble to describe his vision for the square.

Gratwick was particularly interested in the meaning behind the water features, which are “The Source,” a cascading fountain which flows into the “Upper Stream,” a turbulent flow pool, and the “Lower Stream,” a reflecting pool connected to “The Sea,” an at-grade fountain and granite cobble splash area.

Ribble said the features, as a group, represent Bangor. The source and upper stream represent how the Kenduskeag Stream comes though Bangor. The lower stream and sea symbolize the power of the Penobscot River, and the calm lower stream is meant to evoke the civilization of Bangor.

A slight elevation in the pavement between the source and the sea represents this region, also known as the Maine Highlands, he said.

Also proposed are borders of vegetation and seating between the square and the streets, and granite pavers, curbing and seat walls.

Ribble said the granite that will be used will be acquired from “quarries that are as close to Bangor as possible.”

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