A two-phase reconstruction project is planned for High street in Farmington. Phase 1 will begin next spring and include the area from Broadway and Perham to South street. Google maps screenshot

FARMINGTON — Plans to rebuild High Street next spring include improving parking, creating a bus lane in front of the University of Maine-Farmington gym and installing speed tables.

The work would be done in two phases, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

“The first phase will be from Broadway, Perham to South street,” he told selectmen Oct. 27. “We’re looking to make some street improvements to improve parking access along the street, install a bus lane along the Dearborn Hall gym for the travel team and add a couple of raised speed tables as we have on Front Street.”

A bus lane for travel teams at the Dearborn gym at the University of Maine in Farmington is part the first phase of the town’s High Street renovation next spring. Google maps screenshot

There is a section that’s within the Downtown tax increment financing district from Broadway almost to Academy Street and on the other side from Perham to Middle Street, Davis noted.

“In that short section, I’d like to propose we add some decorative streetlights as we have on Front Street,” he said. Main Street would be bookended by Front and High streets, keeping a consistent theme, he said.

The second phase, from South Street to Route 2, is scheduled for spring 2022, Davis said.

“Eight to 12 lights within the Downtown TIF could be paid for through the Downtown TIF reserve account,” he said. “There is $50,000 in it, there may be more money in that account next summer.”

The project is eligible for the Maine Department of Transportation Municipal Partnership Initiative.

“DOT would pay half of each phase,” Davis said. “The total project would be about $1.1 million.”

Areas of High Street are more residential than Front Street and already have streetlights but more could be added, he noted.

“It would bring it down to streetscape level. We would want the public’s input,” Davis said. “The university is interested. They feel it would be less dangerous and safer for pedestrians at night.”

Selectman Michael Fogg asked if the former Ingalls School was included in the TIF.

That is a non-tax-producing property off the books, Davis said.

“It (the Downtown TIF) would include the telephone building, all the houses along there down to the corner where the University Credit Union is. The American Legion hall was added later,” he said. “On the other side it extends almost to the Titcomb House on the corner of Academy and High streets.”

Selectman Stephan Bunker asked if the decorative lights would be placed on Central Maine Power poles or in addition to those.

There are only a couple of lights on poles there, Davis replied. “Appearance and safety are the reasons,” he said.

With decorative lights on Main and Front streets, High street was the next logical area to bookend Main street, Davis added.

Selectman Scott Landry asked if at some point going west would be considered.

Davis wasn’t sure if that was included in the Downtown TIF, but along Court to Anson street was a possibility.

The time to do this is now, when the sidewalks are being replaced, everything torn up for underground utilities, he added.

The area sees heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic from the university to downtown and back, Bunker said.

“We had favorable comments on Front Street. It was mighty dark, particularly for those going to their vehicles, getting fast food,” he said. “That was scary down there.”

The area from the Legion hall towards Broadway is kind of dark, Fogg said. He asked what the Front street lights cost.

Davis said it was about $55,000 in all, with $28,000 for installation and the remainder for poles and fixtures.

Having UMF join the town in a collaborative effort on the lights would work into their master plan, Bunker said.

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