Feb. 23—LEWISTON — After years of planning, the former Hudson Bus Lines site on Bartlett Street is getting a new city athletic field.
"The city purchased this property in 2017, I believe. We've been holding and sitting on that big ugly dirt pile for how many years . . ." mused John Kuchinski, project engineer with Lewiston Public Works, in front of the Planning Board on Monday night.
City Planner Doug Greene said Lewiston originally bought the 2.58 acres at 280 Bartlett St. as part of a requirement to replace other public parkland that had been funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund and later taken out of use.
"That's one of the properties that is working toward getting the city back into compliance with the state of Maine," Greene said.
Public Works' plan, which received needed National Park Service approval last year, according to Kuchinski, will turn the largely paved site into a field and 37 parking spaces.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has also signed off on the design.
"The play field is designed large enough to accommodate most field sports," he said. "It was decided to not designate it for a specific sport so use could be flexible depending on needs."
The budget for the field, fencing, irrigation system, paved parking and some storm-water treatment is about $450,000, he said.
Funds are from two bonds in 2018 and 2021, according to the development application.
The property abuts the 110-acre Franklin Pasture complex just up the hill, at Lewiston High School and Connor Elementary School, but doesn't have the budget to tie the new field into a trail down from the schools, Kuchinski said.
"You will have a trail whether you have created one or not from high school students leaving high school, going down to the soccer field," Planning Board member Shanna Cox said. "Is there not a better way to think about that?"
Other members expressed concerns about the sidewalk, which is on the other side of the street from the future field, and about ensuring there's adequate lighting at the nearest crosswalk.
The project passed the board unanimously with the condition that striping be added to the parking lot plan for a pedestrian pathway.
Kuchinski said he hoped to put construction out to bid in March, with work starting in May and running through midsummer.
"Hopefully this spring we're going to smooth it out and turn it into a nice field," he told the board.
Hudson Bus Lines left the site in late 2016 for a new, larger location near the Maine Turnpike.