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Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 24, 2014
Castine’s Main Street design plans move to town meeting vote

by Faith DeAmbrose

From Battle Avenue, straight down Main Street and to the harbor, the latest iteration of design plans from landscape architect Paul Brody of WBRC and Ted Lameyer were introduced to a packed room at Emerson Hall on April 22.

The plans will come before voters for discussion and an up or down vote at town meeting Saturday, May 10.

Section by section, the roadway, sidewalks, grass buffers and other elements were discussed, prompting a number of questions and the generation of answers for a few problem spots where parking and/or sidewalk placement were seen as an issue.

The meeting comes after a household survey was tabulated and other public meetings held. The design was met with general satisfaction, and areas were “more work could be done” were identified.

There will be two 10-foot travel ways the entire length of the road and then areas of sidewalk that are as wide as seven feet by the post office and as narrow as three feet in other areas.

The bulk of the discussion came around the idea of underground power lines. Many in the audience supported the idea, saying it would benefit the town as a whole and enhance the aesthetic of the downtown.

Underground lines would come at a price—roughly $1 million—and would bring the total cost of the project to about $5.2 million.

A cost of about $70,000 (included in the $5.2 million) would be needed to cover the hook ups from the electrical wires under the road to the Main Street houses. Selectman David Unger said he has already heard from Main Street residents who “said they would not pay their portion of that cost.” Town manager Dale Abernethy said that while there is a provision in the Maine Constitution prohibiting the public use of money for private work, the town attorney said that a case could be made for voters who, through town meeting vote, agree to pay those costs as part of the project. He said the attorney felt the case could stand in court if challenged.