Two state grants support community discussion about revamping harbor landing, riverwalk design

Camden chooses designer for Riverwalk, Town Landing

Tue, 03/05/2013 - 7:45pm

    CAMDEN — TY Lin International, of Falmouth, will be the firm producing for Camden design renditions of a revamped public landing and a riverwalk from the harbor to Millville, as approved Monday evening at the March 5 Select Board meeting.

    The work is not to exceed $40,000, as stipulated in the town's request for proposals that circulated earlier this winter.

    Last fall, the town of Camden 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.

    The town subsequently circulated on Dec. 6 a request for proposals to engineers to fulfill the two design grants and a scoring committee comprising Town Manager Patricia Finnigan, Economic Development Director Brian Hodges, and citizens Carole Snyder, Deb Dodge, Barrie Pribyl, Gene McKeever and Geoff Scott reviewed 11 bids. Last week, they chose TY Lin, and Hodges told the Select Board Monday evening at its regularly scheduled March 5 meeting that the company assembled "a very robust team attacking elements of the project. They understand the sensitivity and are committed to a robust community process."

    TY Lin International's team includes 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. Some of those companies have worked on other Maine projects, including the Belfast Riverwalk and the Portland Trails Project.

    Dodge told the board that the staff of the companies represented had overlapping talents.

    "We had confidence that each group within the team could handle all parts of the project," she said. "They have great vision and the ability to present a vision of how they work in a community."

    Futhermore, she said, the committee was impressed that: "every member of the team came to Camden and walked the project. They had been on the ground and had a sense of what the project entailed."

    One team member is Camden resident Mike Thompson, who works in environmental sciences.

    Committee member McKeever said: "They were really good listeners. And as they talk about the harbor and public landing they envision as they looking down at the landing. They know the parameters, Title 38, our harbor ordinance, the need for fishermen parking. They were very willing and very eager to listen. They also said, 'what does the public landing look like from the water.'"

    Other firms submitting proposals include A.E. Hodsdon, of Waterville; Alta, Boston; Archipelago, Ellsworth; DeLuca-Hoffman Associates, Inc., South Portland; Lachman Architects and Planners, Portland; Milone and MacBroom, Portland; Plymouth Engineering, Inc., Plymouth; Richardson and Associates, Saco; Sewall, Old Town and Wright-Pierce, of Portland.

    A similar public involvement strategy to that used during the creation of Camden's Downtown Master Plan will begin, according to Hodges. A series of public, community meetings, as well as stakeholder interviews, will be scheduled, and a work group will be formed to guide the designers and town staff.  The work group will included one representative from municipal committees, such as CEDAC, Harbor, Conservation Commission, Parks and Recreation, and Pathways, as well as representatives of the Downtown Business Group, Penobscot Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Knox Mill Condo owner association, citizens, and property owners, said Hodges.

    In the RFP, Camden said the goal was to develop a schematic site plan for the Riverwalk, with trail elevations, widths, right of way impacts, wetland impacts, structural cross sections, surface material, and information necessary to construct the trail. Regarding the Public Landing, the request is for a schematic site plan identifying the proposed improvements, and three dimensional visual renderings depicting the proposed improvements. An economic benefits analysis of both projects will also be included.

    The town was clear to say in its RFP: "This request must not be construed as a commitment to award a contract."

    Last fall, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which oversees the Maine Coastal Program, awarded Camden with a $15,000 grant to plan and design the River to Harbor Walk. The local match of $5,000 will derive from Camden's Sidewalks and Pathways budget, as approved by the Camden Select Board on Sept. 17. The Public Landing planning grant, also worth $15,000, will be matched locally with $5,000 from the town's Economic Development Reserve Fund.

    The Walk also creates "greater access between our neighborhoods and downtown, and would connect the various sections of our downtown to one another, culminating at Camden Harbor," said Hodges, community development director for the town of Camden, in a news release that announced securement of the grant. The planning money will help determine the best location for the Walk.

    The Public Landing at the harbor has been paved over for decades, a largely utilitarian parking lot. It is cleared now and then for events, but it serves as catch-all for tourist cars, fishermen trucks, and locals finding a rare parking spot while they run errands.  Over the past few years, there has been an effort to create a new vision for the space, adding more green space, and then this year, the notion of tying its overhaul with a River to Harbor Walk was articulated.

    The piers are also used by commercial fishermen and daysailers. "A determination of best uses and redesign of the Public Landing will need to incorporate the needs of these commercial operations and may very well result in a combination of parking and pedestrian focused space," the grant application to the state said. "Other opportunities to be considered include the means of entry to Camden are not only by vehicle but also by boat via Camden Harbor. However, the view of the downtown from the harbor side is not as comparable as the view from the interior side of the downtown. In addition, there has been a recurring discussion of the possibility of building a connecting bridge from the Public Landing, over the falls, and connecting to Harbor Park."


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


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