BAR HARBOR — A streetscape design for part of Main Street from LARK Studio was presented to the town council in November.
Charlotte Evanofski and Mike Rogers of LARK presented the proposed $6 million plan for the revitalization of “lower” Main Street, from the Village Green to Park Street.
Evanofski referred to Park Street and the town athletic fields as “the gateway” into the downtown as people approach northbound on Route 3.
“We are excited about this project,” Evanofski told town councilors. The plan includes adding sidewalk “bump-outs” intended to make pedestrian crosswalks safer, removing utility poles, burying electrical lines and adding trees and directional signs.
Sidewalk “bump-outs” at intersections improve safety, she said, by slowing traffic and decreasing the distance pedestrians that pedestrians have to walk across traffic lanes. Burying electrical lines remove unsightly and obstructing poles, she said. And adding directional signs on lower Main Street would help visitors find the Shore Path, one block away.
The plan also calls for a redesign of roadside parking spaces.
“Parking is not being maximized,” Evanofski said. The new parking arrangement would have 20-foot buffer zones around intersections for visibility, as recommended by the Department of Transportation.
The burying of power lines is the most expensive component of the proposed plan. The cost of removing existing poles, burying utilities, and adding underground transformer vaults is expected to cost around $3.5 million, with the rest of the improvements costing $2.5 million. Because of the cost, the council directed the town manager to solicit proposals from engineers to offer alternatives to burying the utility lines.
Councilors also expressed their appreciation for the plan. “This is an awesome plan,” said Erin Cough. “I love the idea of having [the area] by the ball field be a gateway. It creates a zone. This is the walkable part of our town.”
Councilors also asked the manager research grants that could help the town fund the project.
LARK also prepared a similar streetscape design for Cottage Street last year. That design work was funded by $25,000 from the town’s cruise ship fund, which comes from per-passenger fees paid by cruise lines. In that project, the designers also found that burying utilities would be the most expensive part of the proposed work.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The council asked the town manager to seek alternatives to burying utilities underground, not proposals for complete new designs. Additional landscape designs are not being pursued. The Islander apologizes for the error.