Designs for river walk, public landing in final stages
Camden — Plans for a river to harbor walk as well as redesign of the public landing are nearing completion and were presented during a final public meeting Sept. 16.
Three concept plans were presented for the public landing, titled boardwalk, sails and compass.
The boardwalk plan is a starting point that can easily be expanded upon with the other two concept plans in the future, said T.J. DeWan Senior Associate Sarah Witte.
"The vision is flexible, versatile and phaseable," she said.
The boardwalk concept reduces parking from 99 spaces to 85 and reconfigures traffic flow as well as combining the public restrooms, with the addition of public showers, into the existing chamber of commerce building.
The plan also calls for moving the harbormaster's office from its existing location, adding a stub pier with a boat hoist, a small park near the waterfalls and a fenced-in dog walking area near Grand Harbor Inn. The memorial tree referred to as "Roberta Smith" also would be moved from its central location to the park near the falls, Witte said.
Improvements to the existing alleyway leading the public landing beside Lily, Lupine and Fern would create a more inviting public way by using light-colored pavers and possibly and archway, she said. In addition, a cantilevered deck would be constructed to connect to the existing wooden boardwalk to overlook the falls.
The sails plan calls for everything included in the boardwalk plan, but reduces parking further to 75 spaces while adding additional green space in the center island featuring "sail-type shade structures," Witte said.
The compass plan expands the center green space to both sides of the center walkway and creates a circular gathering area. The compass plan includes 63 parking spaces.
Witte said several additional concepts will be included in the final plans given to the town, including a controversial bridge over the falls to connect the public landing with harbor park, cable railings along the water side of the boardwalk in several locations and a proposal to bury utilities underground. The additional concepts are add-on items that do not impact the three designs, Camden Development Directory Brian Hodges said.
"These are standalone items which don't affect the parking and green space designs. Whether these occur or not will not change the other design elements. Having these cost estimates will help us determine feasibility," he said.
Witte noted permitting would be required for both a bridge spanning the falls near the library as well as the installation of a stub pier but said, "basically [there are] no red flags."
The firm suggests the town or harbormaster study the number of commercial spaces actually needed and used. Another consideration is "pay and display parking," she said, which would require the town to issue parking cards, for a fee, to be displayed on the dashboards of vehicles parked on the public landing.
Drawing the most fire was the idea of two-way traffic as well as sidewalks on both sides of Commercial Street leading to the public landing between Cappy's and New England Real Estate.
"It's tight, yeah," Witte said, noting pedestrians currently walk "all over the place."
She said clearly defined, but flush, sidewalks could help alleviate that issue, as would improvements to the alley.
Several residents of the more than 80 in attendance also balked at the decreased number of benches included in the plan, noting many are memorial benches. Witte said adding benches to the final plan would not be an issue.
The proposed river to harbor walk drew much less discussion than the public landing concepts, with most questions revolving around trail materials and responsibility for maintenance.
The proposed material for wooded areas of the trail is a "super-humus" of wood fibers and gravel, Witte said, adding the material also provides protection from erosion as well as discouraging weed growth.
The town would likely be responsible for maintenance of the trail or for working out arrangements with property owners to care for the trail, Hodges said.
Responding to questions about the tannery property along the route, Witte noted the scope of her job in designing the river to harbor walk included only the potential walk route and materials, no matter how she desired to expand to Mt. Battie or create a park on the tannery property.
Witte suggested creating visual symbols along the lines of the red Freedom Trail in Boston, perhaps in blue, to designate the trail, along with signs as needed to tie different areas of the trail together.
"Something like this logo can become a recognizable part of the plan," she said, showing a concept design.
She also suggested signs near historic areas or structures explaining the significance of each site.
Witte noted there are a number of potential sources of funding for both projects and the timeline for each could be concurrent, depending on funding.
Hodges said once the final plans are received by the town, a similar approach to that of the towns' master plan will be implemented with presentation to the select board. It is expected the final plans will be complete in early October, he said. While potential costs of each project were not available Sept. 16, Hodges said cost estimates will be included in the final plans.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.
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