This article originally appeared on CentralMaine.com
Two years ago, Gardiner hosted a dinner for BikeMaine, and now the nonprofit that held the event is repaying the hospitality.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has announced it’s making a $12,300 challenge grant to the city to support its bicycle and pedestrian projects, which includes extension of the Cobbossee Trail.
On Wednesday, the Gardiner City Council will consider accepting the grant.
“We started the BikeMaine event three years ago, and the goal of the ride has always been to increase the profile of bicycling and bike tourism,” Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said Monday. “We had a goal to raise enough money to support biking and walking projects in the host communities.”
Grant said at the end of last year’s event the organization had raised enough money to invite past host communities to propose projects for funding. It selected Gardiner’s trail project.
“We’re asking that the community use our grant to motivate the people in the community to support the project, so we have $12,300 and we’re giving it to Gardiner as they match it,” Grant said.
This is the second grant the project has received this summer.
Early in July, the Healthy People Healthy Places program of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation awarded $50,000 to Gardiner Main Street to help pay for designing a part of the trail project.
Grant said the 2014 BikeMaine riders rode on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, which will be expanded with the Cobbossee Trail project.
“The hope is that each year, we’ll go to our host communities and see what projects they would like to see completed so they can improve the bikability and walkability of their communities,” she said.
Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, said he hopes the grant will provide an incentive for the Gardiner community to rise to the fundraising challenge.
In the current budget, Gardiner officials have agreed to provide a match of $28,000 for a state grant to pay for the trail project.
“We don’t yet have a final price tag on the project,” Wright said, “so we’re delighted to use the notion of a challenge to motivate people.”
City officials are also expected to hear a presentation by Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson on the purchase of a new rescue boat for the fire department.
In Nelson’s opinion, the boat the department has now is not much of a rescue boat.
The fishing boat, bought used in 1998, leaves a lot to be desired.
“Its motor operates at about 80 percent of rated horsepower because of lost compression,” Nelson said.
The plywood core of the boat’s fiberglass floor is giving way, and it’s not designed to bring people up over the side, particularly if that person can’t help, he said.
On top of that, if the boat is dispatched for a water rescue, it has to be staffed by four people — one to operate the boat, two to perform the rescue and a fourth to act as a counterbalance to keep the boat from flipping if someone has to be lifted aboard.
“It’s not effective or efficient,” he said. If anyone is brought aboard who needs care, it can’t be administered because there’s no room to do it.
On Wednesday, Nelson is scheduled to give a presentation at the Gardiner City Council meeting, stating his case for his request for a new rescue boat. Earlier this year, as city councilors were mulling the budget, the rescue boat was flagged for further discussion, even as they approved funding the budget request for $40,000.
Mayor Thom Harnett is also expected to present the Spirit of America Award to Rusty Greenleaf for his service to Gardiner.
The council will also:
• consider acting on proposed changes to the city’s Adaptive Reuse Overlay District for Lost Orchard Brewery, following a public hearing;
• discuss placing restrictions on city donations to non-profit agencies;
• consider accepting grants to fund or help fund the services of a stormwater engineer, the Facade Program and an intern for the city manager for the summer of 2017;
• consider a special event permit for the 7th Annual Barks in the Park on Sept. 10.
The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers in Gardiner City Hall at 6 Church St.
Jessica Lowell — 621-5632