BELFAST, Maine (NEWS CENTER )-- City officials in Belfast are ready to spend more than $1 million to improve a part of downtown that's labeled as a "slum and blight" area.
In 2012, the city received a $500,000 grant from the Maine Department of Community and Economic Development. The council has voted to add an additional $530,000 to the project.
With that money, the city will reconstruct Cross Street, which flows into Spring Street, to better connect downtown to city parks. The utility system will be updated and up to 23 parking spaces added. The hope is the improvements will attract new business to the street.
"The long term is that we don't build the buildings, we don't run the businesses, but what we can do is help provide the fabric of the street network to help make those businesses more of a success," said Belfast City Planner Wayne Marshall.
The money for the reconstruction project comes from a tax increment fund to pay for public improvements as part of Belfast's Downtown/Waterfront Master Plan. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and be completed sometime in September.