LEWISTON — Work on a Lincoln Street gateway park will proceed, councilors agreed, without a special treatment for granite walls and decorative LED lights.
City Administrator Ed Barrett said work on the more modest park, designed to create a gateway entrance better linking the downtown to Simard/Payne Memorial Park, should begin this winter and wrap up next summer.
"We have made a variety of changes which I don't think will have a serious effect on the quality and beauty of the final product but do reduce the cost closer to what we were looking for in our budget," Barrett said.
The gateway park would be the first project spelled out in the city's River Front Island Master Plan, which was written last year. The city received a $900,000 federal grant to improve the area, and the first $180,000 paid for the master plan study. According to federal rules, the remaining money can't be used for engineering work.
After moving a Central Maine Power utility pole near the park and paying $111,000 to improve the bridge over the canal between Oxford Street and the park, the city has $602,000 left for improvements.
Pratt's bid came in at $583,000, higher than the $530,000 estimate from landscape designers Richardson Associates. Because the city received one bid on the work, the city's Finance Committee initially denied funding for the project.
City councilors reiterated their support for the project in October, and asked the Finance Committee to let staff negotiate a better price for the project.
Barrett said those negotiations resulted in $96,000 being cut from the budget.
"That original $583,000 bid has been reduced to roughly $490,000," Barrett said.
The initial project called for granite blocks lining the park to be treated with a blow torch to give them a special texture. They would have had notches cut in them where LED lights could be attached. The new version does away with the thermal treatment and the LED light notches, and also uses smaller granite blocks.
City Councilor John Butler said that was too bad.
"The lights on this wall would have been impressive. I understand we are over budget but I'm just saying that LED lighting would have made that park cook," he said.
The project also uses shallower layers of concrete in places and replaces wood decking material in a sitting area with paving stones. It has fewer trees and bushes and replaces special street lights with standard streetlights used elsewhere in the city.