Bath officials plan next year to improve the intersection of Front and Elm streets. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — The city is reviewing design options for the intersection of Front and Elm streets, with an eye toward improving the appearance and functionality of that downtown space.

City officials will spend the coming weeks tallying public feedback gleaned from an online survey of options that drew 264 responses. The input will inform which options Bath chooses to pursue, according to Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers.

“I think this exercise is going to be very beneficial for the development of this area,” he said. A meeting on the responses and the project’s next steps could be held late this month or in early April.

“For a long time, people have viewed several issues down in this area as things that need to be addressed,” Meyers said. Those include the condition of the brick sidewalk that abuts Brackett’s Market on Front Street and an underutilized plaza on the south side of Elm Street that sits in the shade, as well as improved vehicle flow and pedestrian and bicycle safety, he said.

The city paid Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, a Yarmouth landscape architecture firm, $14,000 to create two design concepts each for Elm and Front streets; the section of Front Street between Summer and Elm streets is covered and all of Elm up to Water Street.

Visuals of the four options and site conditions are posted at cityofbath.com/elm-frontredesignproject. The improvements could begin next year, Meyers said.

In Front Street option A, the western sidewalk, currently 7 feet wide, would be 16 feet closest to the intersection with Elm, with plantings, and then narrowed to 9 feet to facilitate parallel parking spaces. On the other side of the road, next to Brackett’s, would be a 7-foot sidewalk with two curb cuts and buffering between the sidewalk and parking lot. There is a 6-foot sidewalk with three curb cuts there now.

“What’s currently there, we like to refer to as a ‘faux sidewalk,'” Meyers said. “Nobody really knows what to do with it, and we’ve had a couple of tree plantings that have failed there. It’s fallen into disrepair.”

This sidewalk, which runs along the Brackett’s Market parking lot, could either be widened next year with fewer curb cuts or replaced with green space. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

Option B would bring the sidewalk from 16 to 12 feet, with trees the full length of the sidewalk. Due to that extra width, the sidewalk by Brackett’s would instead be a 4-foot green space area. In both scenarios, the 13 parking spots would be reduced to 12.

Elm Street currently has four parallel parking spots on the north and 10 perpendicular spaces on the south.

In both Elm Street options, a plaza would be created on the sunnier north side of the road, at the corner of Elm and Front. One concept would have a 38-foot-wide plaza with a 20-foot sidewalk leading up to that space. Twelve perpendicular parking spots would be on the north side and five parallel spaces would sit to the south, which would have a narrower 8-foot sidewalk.

The other concept would sacrifice sidewalk space for more parking: Nine angled spots would be located to the north, against a 13-foot sidewalk leading up to a 30-foot plaza; 10 spaces would sit to the south against a 7-foot sidewalk.

The crosswalk, looking north across Elm Street, ends against a building, which Meyers said discourages pedestrians from proceeding further. It would be shifted in both options so a continuous path from the southern to northern sidewalk would be facilitated.

Redevelopment of the plaza will enhance the experience of visitors who explore downtown, said Amanda McDaniel, executive director of the Main Street Bath organization.

“We’ve received the same feedback that the city is relaying; many people seem to turn around at the corner of Country Farm Furniture,” she said. “In either variation of design, visitors will be drawn further north and enjoy the many shops, restaurants and to our gorgeous library and park. There will be further attention on the businesses on Elm Street as well, by guiding pedestrians to the sunny side. It’s just a win-win.”

McDaniel called both designs “great,” adding, “(We) can’t wait to see the outcome.”

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