LEWISTON — Former Mayor Larry Gilbert said he ultimately wants entire parts of the city lit up at night — but right now, he'll settle for City Hall.
Gilbert is scheduled to propose a fundraising effort to city councilors Tuesday to pay for illuminating Lewiston City Hall's clock tower on four sides. That would give downtown Lewiston three illuminated landmarks, including the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and the Franco-American Heritage Center.
"Combine that with the Androscoggin County Courthouse in Auburn and Auburn Hall, which has nice accent lighting, and a lot of the landmark buildings in the Twin Cities are lit," Gilbert said. "I've wanted to do this for some time. Back when I was mayor, I was told the cost would be $50,000. So I could never get it through."
Gilbert said he has a new cost estimate — $35,546, which includes lights, wiring and the equipment needed to light the building and labor to do the work.
Gilbert has pledged to donate the first $1,000 to buy the equipment and said he plans to lead a fundraising effort to raise another $25,292. He'll ask city councilors Tuesday to pitch in $9,254 to pay for city employees to do the work. He hopes to have raised the money by next spring.
"So later that summer, they'll be able to turn on those lights," he said.
He said he's seen dozens of examples, and he's more than happy to show them off. They include Quebec City's Parliament building, The Grove in Los Angeles, parts of Detroit and Boston.
"When you come into Portland from Washington Street, one of the first buildings you see is City Hall," he said. "It's the same thing with Augusta, with the rotunda."
His plans call for lighting up City Hall's northern face and two small towers framing the larger tower, clock and cupola. The larger tower would also be lit on four sides, making it visible for miles.
"This is a historical building," he said. "Architecturally, this is a beautiful building. And it represents the people of Lewiston, much like the Capitol building in Washington, D.C."
Similar community efforts helped install lights at the base of the basilica in 2003 and Franco-American Heritage Center in 2008.
"Light brings activity," Gilbert said. "Especially now that the entire upper Lisbon Street is being rebuilt. After we do this, I'd like to go to some building owners along Lisbon Street and encourage them to do accent lighting. We have such wonderful architecture on those old buildings. We need to show them off."