Lewiston City Council approves 2 measures for new school project

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LEWISTON — The City Council on Tuesday approved two items related to the new elementary school project.

The city received approval Tuesday to transfer a portion of its Franklin Pasture parcel to the Maine Department of Transportation to allow the state to widen Bartlett Street, making room for a new access drive to the proposed elementary school.
 
The council also voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to place protective restrictions on several streams in Franklin Pasture, part of the permitting process toward constructing the new school. 
 
City Administrator Ed Barrett said the state requires an additional right of way adjacent to the new entrance, but that it isn’t a large area. The council memo says the parcel is roughly 13,000 square feet. Barrett said it’s less than a quarter-mile from the intersection of East Avenue and Bartlett Street.

David Jones, Lewiston Public Works director, said the entrance will create a slip lane for motorists turning onto the new drive. 

The $49.7 million school, which will be paid for by the state, was approved by voters in June. It will be built on the high school football field, while the state will build new athletic fields and community walking paths as part of the project.
 
Several small streams run through the pasture property where the new elementary school will be built. City Planner David Hediger said last week that the wetlands will be protected forever by a buffer that will prevent development.
 
The project needed a full site review from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. DEP granted the permit last month to build the new school and athletic fields, with a condition that the wetlands be protected.

The streams, some which run underground, are too small for fishing or any water activity. Many people didn’t know they existed, said Jeff Larimer, chief architect on the project.

While some of the wetland runs through the middle of the property and off East Avenue, with the buffer there is plenty of land to build the new school, new fields, a pedestrian path, playgrounds and parking, Larimer said.

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According to the City Council memo, the creation of a buffer to each side of these streams will prohibit “any significant construction or disturbance.”

arice@sunjournal.com

Public mum during first budget hearing 

LEWISTON — The City Council held the first of two scheduled public hearings on the proposed fiscal 2017-18 budget Tuesday. No one from the public spoke. 

During its annual budget deliberations, the City Council conducts two public hearings. The final one is scheduled May 2, prior to the final vote to adopt the budget. 

The proposed municipal budget stands at $45.2 million. The entire proposal can be viewed on the city website

The City Council continued its budget discussions during a workshop Tuesday, tackling the Planning and Code Enforcement departments, as well as general government, including city buildings. 

The department-by-department discussions will continue Thursday on social services, tax-increment financing districts and the city’s Community Development Block Grant budget. 

Proposed fiscal 2017-18 figures:

Revenue source:  
General property tax  $33,697,998
Anticipated municipal revenues  $11,583,887
TOTAL  $45,281,885
Expenditures:  
Municipal $42,692,492
County tax  $2,589,393
TOTAL  $45,281,885
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