A view of the Lincoln Street parking garage in Lewiston, lower left, and Bates Mill No. 5 behind it in August 2019. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The city’s plan for construction projects and other capital expenses in 2021 includes environmental cleanup at Bates Mill No. 5 and design money for expanding the Lincoln Street parking garage — two projects planned for years but not funded.

A federal grant for the mill cleanup, however, might be cause to accelerate the process.

According to a memo from City Administrator Ed Barrett, a $500,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to the city must be spent by September 2022. Barrett’s memo states that at the same time, mill developer Tom Platz has received “significant tenant interest” for roughly 175,000 square feet of space.

“The tenant interest, combined with the three-year window to expend the grant have accelerated the time frame for action,” the memo states.

That action might also be approving the start of a multimillion dollar expansion of the Lincoln Street garage, meant for tenants of the Bates Mill complex.

The Planning Board and City Council will hold a joint workshop Tuesday, Jan. 14, to discuss next year’s Capital Improvement Plan, which will be vetted by city officials leading up to a City Council vote typically held in February. The list of projects could look a lot shorter by the time next year’s budget is approved this spring.

The most immediate part of the plan calls for $9.7 million in city bonding, and $17.5 million in bonds for projects by the School Department, and water, sewer and stormwater departments.

The Bates Mill cleanup, if approved in the Capital Improvement Plan, is slated to receive a total of just over $1 million split between the next two years. Roughly half is coming through the federal Brownfields grant that will help pay for getting rid of lead paint, asbestos and PCBs, a group of man-made chemicals that were widely used in electrical equipment.

The city and Platz have utilized Brownfields funds to do similar work at other Bates Mill buildings that have since been redeveloped. In February 2018, the City Council extended an agreement by three years to give Platz exclusive rights to buy the 350,000-square-foot building for $1.

Included in next year’s bond would be $952,000 for phase two of the Lincoln Street parking garage, which has been tied to the future redevelopment of Bates Mill No. 5. The initial funding would pay for architectural and engineering costs, while another $12.6 million for construction appears in the 2022 Capital Improvement Plan. That bond amount would likely require a voter referendum.

According to Barrett’s memo, staff recommends building as many spaces as possible during the phase two expansion, “given more Bates Mill redevelopment is on the horizon.”

Under the Bates Mill sales agreement with Platz, the city is obligated to provide four spaces per 1,000 square feet of mill complex that is redeveloped. Another 108,000 square feet is being redeveloped now, with Grand Rounds committed to 90,000 of it.

The San Francisco-based company works with large employers helping nearly 5 million employees navigate their health care needs, matching them with doctors and advocating on their behalf. It opened in August 2016 in Bates Mill No. 6. Company officials are hoping to spread out into Bates Mill No. 1 in early 2020.

Also included in next year’s Capital Improvement Plan is $115,000 for a citywide revaluation, with a total cost of $575,000 split over the next five years. The revaluation, typically done every 10 years, is done to assess the proper value of all real estate and personal property. Lewiston has not done a full revaluation since 1988. A 2006 revaluation was mostly completed but never implemented.

The plan also includes $420,000 for buses and bus support equipment, $240,000 for canal ownership projects, $280,000 for design work for a police building expansion project, and $550,000 for design for the Main Street fire station replacement project.

Suggested canal projects for 2021 include the removal of two bridges, clearing vegetation and installing new fencing and guardrails.

For Public Works, the plan includes $3.8 million for street maintenance, with $352,000 for sidewalk maintenance. Another $350,000 is slated for sidewalk maintenance on Birch, Caron and Jefferson streets. The Public Works plan also includes $1.2 million for vehicle and equipment replacements.

The School Department’s Capital Improvement Plan budget includes $600,000 for expanding the McMahon School parking lot.

Under the Lewiston charter, the plan is submitted to the Planning Board, Finance Committee and ultimately the City Council for review and recommendations. The council is required to hold a public hearing and adopt it at least four months before the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

The plan can always be changed, Barrett’s memo said. In fact, many of the projects listed in a single fiscal year are often deferred based on the cost and availability of funds.


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