Belfast City Council to consider funding for new dental clinic; to discuss tree canopies, sturgeon mural


BELFAST – Belfast City Council will hold its meeting regular public meeting Tuesday evening, May 16 at 7 p.m. to discuss topics such as Wight Street infrastructure, a new dental clinic in Belfast, the addition of canopies to the city center and a waterfront exhibition dedicated to the sturgeon, among others.

The council will hear a motion to accept and award bids for the Wight Street Infrastructure Improvement Project with Benton’s Nitram Excavation, with the lowest bid for base works being US$2,062,000.

Nitram Excavation’s alternative bid for the Congress Street sewer extension was $64,280. According to Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig’s report ahead of the meeting, these are both the fair market value of the project and the estimated likely cost.

The testimonials from those who have used Nitram Excavation for road projects all gave a positive recommendation. Olver Associates Inc. has previously worked on projects with Nitram Excavation and is reportedly “confident in their ability to successfully complete this project and has no concerns about their performance,” according to Herbig’s pre-meeting report.

Once the contract is awarded, Olver Associates Inc. will work with Nitram to consolidate a schedule that will be presented to residents, city officials and the City Council once the schedule is finalized. The group is confident of being able to start drainage work later this season, with roadwork due in 2024. Herbig points out that the schedule depends on material availability and weather conditions.

Mandy Holway, vice president and director of construction services at Olver Associates Inc., will attend the meeting and answer all questions.

A presentation by Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge is also on the Council’s agenda. The presentation will be about submitting an application for the Community Development Block Grant Public Service Grant Program on behalf of the Penobscot Community Health Center.

PCHC is the largest state-qualified health center in Maine and northern New England, and the recent buyer of Stag Campus in Belfast, the former home of MBNA, is seeking funding through the Community Development Block Grant Services Grant Program, according to Herbig’s report.

The CDBGP can award grants of up to $50,000. Funds may be used for activities “including, but not limited to, operating and programming material costs for the purpose of providing staff training and skills development, childcare, health care, recreational programs, educational programs, public safety services, fair housing activities and elders.”, “civic services, homeless services.” or substance abuse/mental health counseling and treatment,” says Herbig’s report.

Although there is no requirement for the grant to cover funds, it stipulates that at least 51 percent of those receiving the grants will be low- to middle-income individuals.

The closing date for entries is May 26th.

Tuesday’s meeting will also include a public hearing to submit an application for the Community Development Block Grant Public Service Grant Program on behalf of the Penobscot Community Health Center.

The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. and includes a discussion of the submitted application. According to Herbig’s report, the purpose of the application is to provide financial support for PCHC to purchase furniture, fixtures and/or equipment for a new dental clinic in Belfast.

All persons who would like to make comments or ask questions about the application for funding are invited to the public hearing. Comments can also be made in writing to Thomas Kittreder, City of Belfast Economic Development Director, Belfast City Hall, 131 Church Street, Belfast. Comments can also be emailed to Kittredge at any time prior to the hearing. Those who need TDD/TTY users can call 711. Those who are physically unable to access any of the city’s programs and services may contact Kittredege at extension 338-3379. 116 to enable the provision of shelters.

All interested parties are invited to attend the public hearing and will be given the opportunity to be heard. Any written or emailed comments or questions will be read out by Kettridge at the meeting.

At Tuesday’s meeting there will also be discussion and a possible vote on submitting an application for the Community Health Development Block Grant Public Service Grant Program on behalf of PCHC.

Subject to approval by the city council, city officials will request that an application be made to authorize the filing of an application for the Community Development Block Grant Public Service Program on behalf of PCH. and authorize City Manager Erin Herbig to sign all documents relevant and required to submit the application.

The Council is also asked to accept the 2023 Project Canopy Assistance Grant. According to Herbig’s report, Councilman Mike Hurley applied for a $10,000 canopy planting and maintenance project grant in March along with support from city employees, with the city agreeing 50/50 with the plan. If awarded, the grant would be used to plant new tree canopies along the City of Belfast Rail Trail and in central Belfast.

The Council at its November 1 Council meeting approved a $5,000 expenditure to purchase new trees along the outer High Street where the Belfast Rail Trail abuts and is exposed to the road.

“By introducing this new canopy, the city wants to provide additional protection for pedestrians using the path and help isolate the path from vehicles, noise, salt and plows, making the path safer and more user-friendly. Although the trees were purchased outside of the grant agreement period, the project was put on hold until spring 2023 due to additional resources and planning that would be required for a successful project,” Herbig’s report said.

The city has also identified seven downtown locations that reportedly need tree replacement or would benefit from the installation of a canopy. Herbig’s report notes that the addition of the trees will have a direct positive impact on both the community and visitors. The project is “an integral part of the city’s decade-long community forestry program that has encouraged Belfast to plant and protect as many trees as possible on roadsides, in parks, in schools, along major roads and throughout the inner city area.”

The City of Belfast received $10,000 last week under the USDA Forest Service Urban Community Forestry Program’s Project Canopy Assistance Program for a street tree population and maintenance project. If approved by the council, the city is obligated to double the price. City officials are asking the council to accept the grant and required 50/50 agreement and authorize city manager Herbig to sign the agreement and general assurances with Maine Forest Services.

According to Herbig’s report, local artist David Hurley has applied to the council for up to $1,000 in funding to create and install an exhibition plaque next to Harbor Walk on the left corner of Heritage Park. If approved, the panel would correlate with the 32-foot mural of a sturgeon that Hurley is currently painting on the front of the former Consumer Fuel building, now owned by Paul Narron. The wall faces the waterfront and the hiking trail.

The panel would reportedly include scientific information on the sturgeon, the common name for the 28 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, as well as cultural information on the name Passagassawakeag; The name is a Maliseet word and, according to David Hurley’s request, means ‘place for spearing sturgeons by torchlight’. The panel would also include a link for more information and history about the Penobscot nation.

The funds requested would cover panel costs including graphic design, materials and installation. The application points out that the application was not included in this year’s budget and, if approved, would therefore have to be financed from the unrestricted fund assets.

A full agenda and supporting materials are available Visit the city’s website for the full view.

Erica Thoms can be reached at