Pocket park nixed

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Orono town councilors decided last week to not fund a proposed downtown pocket park.

The Orono Village Association this winter requested that town officials look into the possibility of creating new green space downtown in the alleyway between Margaritas and Mill Street Yoga and Black Bear Brewery. Concepts drawings of the park in May showed a plan where the alleyway no longer being open to traffic, with a short, winding path going through there instead. There also would have been trees and benches; new put in place on each end of the alleyway to make up for those that would be lost; and screens placed around dumpsters in the Pine Street parking lot to prevent vandalism, improve aesthetics and clearly delineate parking spaces.

But during a discussion at the committee level last week on tax increment financing infrastructure projects, councilors decided to drop the pocket park, which never really seemed to gain strong support from the onset from either merchants or councilors. Scrapped at the same time was a plan to build a parking lot over a small gully off Pine Street. Not doing those two projects saves the town $350,000.

Councilors did agree to move forward with plans to stabilize the gully, however, as well as a project to rehabilitate the Pine Street parking lot.