AUBURN — Despite some misgivings about putting the city’s downtown bus station in Great Falls Plaza, councilors agreed to the move Monday night.
“I don’t believe this is the best location, but because we’ve dragged it along, we now need to rush, rush rush,” Councilor Tizz Crowley said. “I’m also concerned that this will not be completed by November 2015. I have concerns that future councils will be looking at this same project. But a transportation center is important for residents, so while I have these concerns, I hope I will be proven incorrect.”
Councilors approved a resolution 6-0 that moves the proposed bus station away from Hannaford supermarket to the parking lot across from the Auburn Housing Authority’s Esplanade Apartments.
The project has been in the works for 10 years.
The Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee and the city have set aside about $500,000 for the center. That includes federal grant money and city Tax Increment Finance revenue set aside for downtown economic development.
The station would be about 1,500 square feet, with room for a warm seating area, two public restrooms and a break area for drivers.
Original plans put the station alongside a proposed Great Falls Plaza garage in the parking lot near the Auburn Esplanade and Hilton Garden Inn.
That garage was not built, however, and the transit committee moved the hub for Auburn’s bus traffic to Spring Street, near Hannaford, with potential site plans and building designs being released earlier this year.
Complications with Spring Street land ownership convinced the city to move the center back to Great Falls Plaza.
“I don’ t agree that this is the greatest place in the city,” Councilor Leroy Walker said. “I don’t think we could have gone to other locations, but we didn’t take the time to research it. Now we’ve dragged it out for so long and I think we’re in a hurry.”
But Councilor Adam Lee disagreed.
“I’m very excited that we are finally moving forward,” Lee said. “I think we have the correct location and I think it will be best for the city.”