This image shows one of three concept designs for a revitalized Festival Plaza. City of Auburn

AUBURN — City officials got a first look Monday at a series of concept plans to overhaul Festival Plaza, the aging public space on Main Street that officials hope can be a centerpiece for downtown events.

According to city staff, the plaza was built 20 years ago and several elements from the initial project have failed or need repair. That includes the well-known fountains, which are in the process of being removed.

Derek Boulanger, Auburn facilities manager, said prior to investing in costly repairs to existing infrastructure, the city asked Portland engineering firm Woodard and Curran to develop concept plans to revitalize the plaza.

“Along with a reduction in maintenance and utility costs, the intent of these changes is to increase usability and improve future programming and events in the downtown,” a council memo from Boulanger said.

The City Council was briefed on three different designs during a workshop Monday, with price tags ranging from $725,000 to $1.86 million.

The designs would completely revamp the plaza, the performance space “band shell” that’s been used by Auburn’s community band, and add several other design elements. They would also include the use of artificial turf, several different forms of seating, garden areas and more.

The three concepts provide for different layout orientations, with one putting more focus on the river, and another putting more focus on tying community events to Main Street, which the city plans on continuing to close for special events.

City Manager Phil Crowell said the designs are not set in stone and will be tweaked after receiving feedback from the public and organizations that would use the plaza.

Due to funding, Crowell said the earliest the city could go out to bid for the project would be December 2022. However, Mayor Jason Levesque said he’d like officials to “move forward with a great design” in case funding becomes available sooner.

Councilor Tim MacLeod said that if the project moves forward, he’d like to see the new plaza last “longer than 20 years.”

Consultants from Woodard and Curran said the lifespan will depend on regular maintenance, adding that the existing plaza has fallen victim to deferred maintenance.

In response to comments on needing an upkeep plan in place prior to approving the project, Councilor Leroy Walker said he’s “been around a long time,” and “we haven’t had a maintenance budget that’s worked yet.”

Walker said he’d like the city to prioritize replacing certain sections of the plaza to start.

“I think people are going to have a hard time swallowing one and a half million after 20 years,” he said.

Crowell said once Public Works crews remove the defunct fountains, staff is “hoping we can do something different in the interim.”

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