Board: Lewiston City Council

Met: Tuesday

Veterans Park use

Issue: After the 2009 visit by The Moving Wall, the half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the city redoubled efforts to make the park at the foot of the Great Falls into a memorial for veterans. It now includes displays taken from other Lewiston parks memorializing residents’ military service.
The Scoop: Local veterans began asking councilors to reserve the Veterans Memorial Park as a quiet place for reflection and remembrance by banning vendors, entertainment or commercial activity there. In the past, the park has been used as a venue for entertainment during the Great Falls Balloon Festival and the July 4 Liberty Festival. That would change under the proposed policy.
Up Next: Councilors approved the policy change as a part of their consent agenda.

Bates Lofts
Issue: Developer Nathan Szanton plans to build 55 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the Bates Mill Building No. 2, redeveloping the part of the mill overlooking the Fountain Plaza. According to the plan, 18 of the units would be rented at fair-market rents. The remaining 34 units would be for low-income residents.
The project needs financial help from the city to proceed.
The Scoop: Councilors Tuesday reviewed plans to create a Tax Increment Financing District and earmark federal HOME funds to help the project.
The TIF district would rebate $21,123 of the estimated $51,000 property taxes Szanton would pay to the city each year for the next 15 years.  The Federal HOME fund grants would earmark $538,000 for the project.
Up Next: Council approvals require a f0ur-vote majority to pass, but Councilors John Butler and Tina Bailey were absent for Tuesday’s meeting. Fearing a close vote, Councilor Renee Bernier moved to table the matter until Sept. 7. Councilors agreed 5-0.

Horton Street one-way
Issue: Public Works crews are recommending making Horton Street, between Birch and Pine streets, a northbound one way street. That would let the city improve the sidewalks, making them more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, while reducing traffic congestion without reducing on-street parking.
The Scoop: Public Works Director David Jones said the change is meant to help cut  traffic congestion on Horton Street during events at the Colisee.
Up Next: The motion received a 3-2 vote, with Councilors Larry Poulin and Mark Cayer opposing it. Without a four-vote majority, the direction change failed.

Garage drains
Issue: Crews began building a new Lincoln Street parking garage this spring and work is scheduled to wrap up this fall.
The Scoop: The project was originally designed as a single-phase project, according to Public Works Director Dave Jones. When it was split into two phases, plans for two floor drains on the first level were inadvertently left off the first phase plans by designers. Designers suggested the city change plans, installing two drains and two  concrete channels to help the garage drain better — especially in the winter.
The city finance committee reviewed the plan, but tabled the matter and forwarded it to the city council for its consideration. The work would add $6,798 to the cost of developing the garage.
Up Next: Councilors approved the plan changes 4-1, with Councilors Renee Bernier and Larry Poulin criticizing staff and designers for needing contingencies and change orders in construction projects. While Bernier voted with the majority to approve the changes, Poulin voted against the changes.

Historic uses
Issue: Councilors approved selling a vacant old Park Street duplex last month, allowing it to be redeveloped as residential apartments for two families. The current zoning on the land does not allow that kind of residential unit, however,  and that has city staff and members of the Planning Board reviewing zoning codes.
The Scoop: The planning board reviewed one idea last week, allowing historically designated structures in the downtown Centerville zoning district to revert to a previous use. Since the 271 Park St. building was built as housing for two families, that kind of change would allow the housing development to proceed.
Up Next: Councilors approved the change on first reading. They’ll vote on it again their next regular meeting.

Fire code
Issue: The National Fire Protection Association produces a national list of fire codes. They spell out specifications for minimum construction rules for new construction to be considered safe  in case of a fire. Those codes are updated every few years.
The Scoop: Lewiston currently uses the NFPA 2002 standard. A new standard was adopted and published in 2006. Councilors voted to set the 2006 codes as the standards for construction going forward on first reading.
Up Next: They approved the change on final vote Tuesday night.

Liquor licenses
: Local restaurants and bars must reapply for liquor licenses and amusement permits each year. Liquor licenses permit the establishments to serve alcohol; amusement permits allow them to play music, have a DJ, host karaoke or have games on site.
The scoop:
Councilors approved a new liquor license and special amusement permit for the Hacienda Del Patron Mex Grill and Bar, 838 Lisbon St. They renewed special amusement permits for the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, 190 Birch St., Sparetime Recreation, 24 Mollison Way, and She Doesn’t Like Guthries, 115 Middle St. They also approved a civic organization liquor license for the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 155 Hogan St.

Next meeting: A special Lewiston City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 17.  The next city council workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m.  Aug. 24. The next regular meeting of the council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday , Sept. 7.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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