AUBURN – Main Street could be the beneficiary of federal stimulus money, as councilors discussed how to spend $170,000 aimed at downtown renovations.

Councilors on Thursday asked City Manager Glenn Aho to figure out costs for several projects downtown, including repairing, repainting or replacing the murals on a 770-foot-long cement wall between north and south Newbury Streets, installing matching streetlights along Main Street, adding more parking around Great Falls Performing Arts Center and making the park in front of that building more useful and fun. That could include a child-friendly water fountain, Aho said.

Thursday’s meeting was scheduled to replace the workshop and regular meeting scheduled for Monday. That meeting was postponed because of a snowstorm.

Aho said the city is expecting the additional money will be distributed through the grants. He said councilors should see the item on their March 16 agenda.

Councilors began talking about replacing the Main Street mural last summer, but were cool to a plan to put up new artwork. One idea would have been to use fabric murals that could be easily and inexpensively replaced.

Councilors said they were still hesitant to spend too much there.

“I drive past that wall two or three times a day, and I don’t really care if it’s artwork or just painted white,” Councilor Dan Herrick said.

But Councilor Ray Berube said that whatever the city does there, it must look better than it does now.

“This wall is really going to speak for this city,” he said. “If there’s an art center downtown, people are going to have to go past this wall to get there. I’d hate for them to have to see the wall that’s there now.”

But Berube was also interested in extending the traffic lights used downtown into New Auburn. That could include sidewalk repairs and other improvements, Aho said.

Aho said he also thinks a fountain in the park in front of the Great Falls Performing Arts Center would be popular.

“We see that the fountains at Festival Plaza is quite a draw for children,” Aho said. “But it wasn’t designed to for play, and I think it would be nice to give them something just for that.”

Aho said he worries that a child will be hurt by falling down the stairs near the fountain, and he noted that the fountain’s water is not chemically treated like water in a swimming pool.

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