Questions and comments aired at community forum

Camden Riverwalk, Public Landing concepts on the table

Wed, 06/26/2013 - 8:30am

    CAMDEN — Draft concepts for paths and sidewalks along Megunticook River, as well as proposed redesigns of the Camden Public Landing, were delivered to interested residents, town officials and business owners June 24 at the third community forum dedicated to potential major infrastructure projects. The feedback was honest, questions many, and the designers went home with a stack of sticky notes for plan amendments and improvements.

    Both sets of preliminary concepts and plans are attached below the photos as PDFs. They are also available at Camden's Camden Riverwalk and Public Landing project page (click on Community Meetings).

    The forum was the fourth of six held by consultants TY Lin International, of Falmouth, the lead firm producing for Camden design renditions of a revamped public landing and a riverwalk from the Camden Public Landing to Millville, up to the Seabright Dam, Shirttail Point, and even includes a spur to Route 52.

    The redesigned public landing incorporates two designs, one focusing on maintaining existing parking allotments, the other shrinking the parking to provide more public space. There is also accomodation for a hoist for commercial fishermen.

    One design factor that has been shelved, though not totally discarded, is the idea of a footbridge across the waterfall to Harbor Park at the head of Camden Harbor. Designer Sarah Witte told the room: "We are not exploring the bridge. We get the message that people want the Public Landing to stay pretty much the way it is."

    That drew concern from Camden architect John Scholz: "Why take the bridge away? A feature like that is not going to take away the business viability on Main Street. It's a draw. People [pedestrians] will circle back around."

    He said the bridge is feasible and should be on the long-range plan. Witte said it had not been abandoned.

    Other landing improvements include widening and lengthening the boardwalk is some places, creating a small park area near the waterfall, changing the lamps to downward-facing lighting, and possibly installing railings along the harborfront (there are several design options, see photos). The latter raised eyebrows and drew references to a possible Bar Harbor lawsuit, obstruction of views and the probability of people sitting on the railings.

    The design portion of the two separate yet correlating projects was approved March 5 by the Camden Select Board after learning the town secured two state grants: a $15,000 grant (with a required $5,000 matching contribution from the town) to help plan a design for a path alongside the Megunticook River from Shirttail Point to the harbor and another $15,000 grant (and $5,000 local matching contribution) to revision the Town Landing, with tie-ins to the Riverwalk.

    TY Lin then subcontracted a team of landscape architects, engineers and planners to help. They included Terrance DeWan and Associates, of Yarmouth, landscape architects and planners; Baker Design Consultants, of Yarmouth, engineering consultants; Penobscot Environmental, environmental consultants, of Camden; Northeast Civil Solutions, of Scarborough, engineers and land planners; and Planning Decisions, of Portland.

    The June 24 forum, held at the Camden-Rockport Middle School cafeteria drew interested citizens, commercial schooner and boat owners, town officials and various municipal committee members. After providing two slide presentations outlining work to date and visual concepts, the community peppered with designers with questions. They then circulated around the cafeteria, scribbling comments and suggestions on sticky notes and attaching them to posters of plans set up on easels.

    The first community meeting, which focused primarily on the Riverwalk project, was held at the Camden Rockport Middle School on March 18. The subsequent forum held April 1 had 120 people in attendance. The goal of the meeting was to determine whether there was public support for the project and to get ideas that consultants can use to create a detailed project plan by Sept. 9. The plan will include mapping, 3D models and schematics, a preliminary estimate of the project cost, a cost-benefit analysis, and a step-by-step implementation plan, including where to get funding for the project. It will also incorporate public input.

    Questions raised and suggestions made at the June 24 meeting included:

    • Why consolidate the ticket area for day sailers? Currently, the day sailer ticket sales are lined up along the boardwalk at individual stations. The concept calls for consolidating that into one operation. The response was that to consolidate makes it clearer to visitors.

    • Are the power and utility lines to be buried? The response: to be added to the wish list.

    • Designate one spot for restaurant delivery trucks.

    • Are the benches still on the boardwalk? Yes.

    • What is construction material of the Riverwalk? Compacted loose wood fiber and gravel mixture that is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.

    Read more:

    Two state grants support community discussion about revamping harbor landing, riverwalk design: Camden chooses designer

    A section of the town's website has been dedicated to the project and includes minutes of previous forums. The next forum is scheduled for Sept. 9. For more information, visit the Camden Riverwalk and Public Landing project page.

    Editorial Director Lynda Clancy can be reached at; 706-6657