A Blue Hill-based organization wants to extend this sidewalk on South Street in Blue Hill and build another on the opposite side to make the area safer.

BLUE HILL, Maine — A Maine town wants to make it easier for pedestrians to travel the 1½ miles between downtown and South Street, where there are a growing cluster of retail shops.

Blue Hill is in the running for a $500,000 grant to lengthen South Street’s sidewalks, said John Burns, a member of the board of directors of Blue Hill Community Development. Meanwhile, the Blue Hill Heritage Trust is seeking to raise more than $60,000 to upgrade its existing Parker Point-South Street trail and extend it north to Tenney Hill Road, an area of downtown near the town library, said George Fields, the trust’s associate director.

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Better connecting South Street’s two schools, supermarket, pharmacy and fitness center to downtown’s harbor, post office, hardware store and nearby George Stevens Academy will make South Street safer by getting pedestrians out of the street, Burns said.

“It is pretty well known that people drive faster than they should on South Street,” Burns said Friday.

Burns co-wrote the $500,000 grant application with Blue Hill residents including Scott Miller, Jennifer Traub, Amy Visentin and Cheryl Boulet.

Credit: Courtesy of John Burns

“One of the things I really love about this plan is that it could be an enticement to the community and also to invite summer visitors to walk a beautiful trail from downtown to commercial places on South Street,” Burns said. “It adds more charm to a town that is already incredibly charming. It creates separations between pedestrians and vehicles, and it gets people briefly out in nature.”

A volunteer economic development agency, Blue Hill Community Development members wrote the $500,000 bicycle and pedestrian grant. Under its terms, the Maine Department of Transportation would award $400,000 in federal funds, and the town of Blue Hill would add $100,000.

The money would pay for new sidewalks and road shoulders from the traffic circle on South Street near First National Bank southward to The Bay School, an independent pre-K-8 Waldorf school, and Blue Hill Harbor School, according to a 27-page grant application filed by the development group.

The director of Bay School, Marcia Diamond, said the increase in development in the area and the road’s vehicle traffic make sidewalks necessary.

“Although we allow the older students (with parent permission) to walk to their next location, we don’t encourage it. We think it is risky for our students to be out on South Street,” Diamond wrote in a July 2018 letter supporting the project.

[Blue Hill Co-op prepares to leave downtown next year]

Blue Hill Heritage Trust is seeking a $32,000 recreational trail grant from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands for work on its existing Parker Point-South Street trail, which can be accessed from South Street. In addition, the trust has already received $9,900 from AARP and seeks to raise another $10,000 as part of its participation in the AARP grant program to create the trail extension to Tenney Hill Road, said George Fields, the trust’s associate director. The organization has already raised $10,000 for that work from a private donor.

As of last week, the trust owned 5,578 acres on the Blue Hill Peninsula and held conservation easements on another 3,633 acres, Fields said.

The existing trail, which ends downtown near Northern Light Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, is a largely wooded area, rocky and studded with rock walls and bluffs, Burns said.