HOULTON – Committee members who successfully raised money to construct a pedestrian footbridge in town have long said they would like to make more improvements to the area around the structure.
Part of that goal may soon be realized, now that Town Councilors have authorized the town manager to apply for a grant to help create further access to the Gateway Crossing bridge.
The decision came at a meeting on Monday evening, after Town Manager Douglas Hazlett requested permission to apply for the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
The footbridge, which was christened “Gateway Crossing” when it opened to the public last July, stretches from the North Street Bridge across the Meduxnekeag River. The 187-foot structure is designed to give walkers easy access to historic downtown Market Square and the trails alongside the river.
The grant money would be used to construct a set of stairs that would improve access to the trails both for people walking to and from the footbridge to Highland Avenue.
The stairs would be constructed near the Highland Avenue access point.
Hazlett added that the matching funds that would be needed if Houlton were awarded the maximum $25,000 grant would not come from the town.
“There is no town money involved in this at all,” Hazlett told councilors, explaining that the matching funds had been donated by private individuals and organizations.
Councilors quickly voted to approve the application submission.
The committee’s work will not be finished once the stairs are constructed. Volunteers also plan eventually to create a park near Gateway Crossing, which would feature picnic tables, restrooms and other amenities.