Belfast City Council to consider Story Walk in park, altering intersection of Church Street and Northport Ave, Signing Day

Mon, 04/17/2023 - 4:15pm

    BELFAST — The Belfast City Council will hold its regularly scheduled public meeting Tuesday evening, April 18, at 7 p.m., to address topics including a new part-time police officer, Co-op renovation fees, a story walk for Belfast City Park, and improvements to the intersection of Church Street and Northport Ave., among others. 

    The first agenda item is a request from Belfast Police Chief Robert Cormier for the Council confirm the hiring of Romel Corpuz as a part-time reserve officer for the department. Corpuz successfully completed his boards, PT test, background check, and Phase I and Phase II entry level training required by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, according to Cormier’s request. 

    Cormier noted that Corpuz hopes to eventually transition to a full-time position with the department when one becomes available. Corpuz resides in Belfast with his wife and family. 

    The Belfast Community Co-op is asking the Council to waive $11,855 in building fees that are associated with their renovation project. The request comes from General Manager Doug Johnson, with the renovation project scheduled to begin in May, according to Herbig’s report. 

    The renovations will include making necessary upgrades to the current infrastructure, including electrical, plumbing, HVAC, security and fire prevention and detection, and operational safety, according to Johnson’s request. In addition to the upgrades needed, the Co-op is planning to add 33 percent more retail space.  

    Given that only the City Council has the authority to grant permit fee waivers, City staff are seeking the Council’s direction regarding the request. A representative from the Co-op will be available at the meeting to answer any questions. 

    A request from the Belfast Free Library and the Parks and Recreation Department to install a story walk in Belfast City Park, will also be heard at the meeting. 

    The proposal would include a 16-piece story walk in the park, which would consist of 16 aluminum frames enclosed in polycarbonate sheet to protect the book pages inside. The stations would allow library staff to install up to 32 pages of a short story “for families and children to enjoy,” Herbig’s report reads. 

    The cost associated with the project is estimated to be approximately $6,000, and would be funded with donations from First National Bank and the Friends of Belfast Library.

    Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirier and Library Director Steve Norman will be present at the meeting to answer questions. 

    A Belfast resident, Carrie Pierce, is requesting the Council approve a facility use request for Steamboat Landing for Belfast Signing Day. Pierce is representing the local hearing impaired and deaf community, in making the request. The event would include conversations, practicing of signing skills, and games, taking place Sunday June 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    It is noted in Herbig’s report that the request is from a small group, and the only thing they have requested is use of the park. Parks and Rec Director Poirier has recommended notifying the police department and providing additional trash cans and picnic tables for the event. 

    The Belfast Director of Code and Planning, Bub Fournier, is requesting the Council authorize the City engineer to redesign the intersection of Church Street and Northport Avenue.

    The intersection is next to Belfast’s well-known James P. White House, which has been owned privately for years. For decades the previous owners allowed a small path to cut through the far end of the property to allow for pedestrians to safely cross the intersection, however the current owners have chosen to no longer allow such usage; instead, a large white fence to enclose the property was erected.  

    According to the report, the fence has made the intersection “unnavigable.” 

    “Currently the sidewalk on the northeast side of Church Street does not connect to the crosswalk across Northport Avenue, or any other pedestrian improvements in the vicinity,” wrote Herbig. “City staff, with input from the Belfast Pedestrian, Biking and Hiking Committee, other City officials, and the public, have considered how to best improve the intersection to meet the needs of the City and neighborhood. This is a prominent, iconic intersection with plenty of room to accommodate a good design that benefits everyone who uses it.”

    Code and Planning staff have reportedly been working with the committee on “tactical urbanism” approaches with paint and bollards at different locations in town to improve pedestrian and vehicle infrastructure. The new design would also reportedly ease vehicular traffic at the intersection by making the angle of the turn closer to 90 degrees, which will force cars to slow down as they turn onto Church Street heading Northwest. “The angle of the existing intersection allows vehicles to make their turn comfortable at a higher speed than the area warrants.”

    If approved by the Council, Code and Planning Director Fournier is requesting that a motion is made to expend up to $4,000 to hire the City Engineer to generate a design for the pedestrian and vehicular improvements at the intersection. 

    Later in the agenda, the Council will discuss a possible City-wide celebration of the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Belfast and City funding support. 

    A complete agenda is available to view, which includes relevant submitted documentation.

    Erica Thoms can be reached at