Brunswick seeks federal grants for parking deck, bike path
BRUNSWICK — The town hopes a last-minute grant opportunity will fund two coveted projects, a 150-space parking deck and a 2.6-mile extension of the Androscoggin Bicycle & Pedestrian Path.
The path extension, about seven miles from Grover Lane in Brunswick to downtown Bath, has been sought since Bath and Brunswick co-funded a 2004 feasibility study. In early April, the Town Council voted to pursue a different grant from the Maine Community Foundation that could help fund an engineering study.
If secured, the new grant opportunity would go toward the design and construction of a portion of the project, stretching the 2.4-mile path another 2.6 miles along Route 1, or from the Grover Lane terminus to the area adjacent to Peterson Lane on the New Meadows River.
The project's cost is estimated at more than $2 million. The grant would fund 80 percent of the project, bringing the town's share to about $400,000.
Parks and Recreation Director Tom Farrell told the Town Council on Monday that the town could use impact fees from development projects to offset some of the local costs.
The entire path extension is estimated to cost $11 million.
The parking deck, which would benefit Maine Street Station, is estimated at $4 million, with the same funding requirements from the town. That means the town would need to pay $800,000 if the grant is secured.
Brunswick applied for the grants through U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. According to Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch, the freshman congresswoman will attempt to include the projects in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, which sets funding for highway and transit projects for the next seven years.
Both applications request estimates of the number of jobs that will result from the projects. The town said the bike path extension would either create or maintain 40 jobs, 12 of which would be directly related to the project. It said the parking deck would create 30 to 35 new jobs.
According to Brown, the parking deck is of particular importance to viability of the $23 million Maine Street Station project. Last year, critics of the project worried there wasn't enough parking to accommodate all its uses, including commercial and retail businesses in addition to a multi-modal hub with a train station at its nexus.
Despite those concerns, the Planning Board last year approved the project.
The town, meanwhile, embarked on an unsuccessful effort to pave a nearby dirt lot on Cedar Street. Last month the Maine Department of Transportation turned down Brunswick's request for a $500,000 grant for the project.
At the time Brown said the town had other options, but he declined to identify any potential locations.
According to information in Brunswick's grant application, the town would spend $50,000 to study three potential locations near the proposed train station. Another $500,000 would be spent for land acquisition, while another $3.4 million would go toward the design, construction and management of the parking deck.
The application also states that the town would seek assistance from the Brunswick Economic Development Corp. to guarantee the local match in funding.
The council unanimously endorsed the grant applications on Monday, three days after the filing deadline. However, some councilors expressed concern that they were left out of the discussions while town staff was rushing to complete the applications.
"Almost everybody at this table supports (these projects)," Councilor Joanne King said. "But it would've been awkward if we didn't."