ADAMS -- Park Street could be under construction by fall provided the success of a soon-to-be-submitted town grant application that got a top-to-bottom look at Town Hall on Tuesday.
Residents, officials and engineers had one of two remaining opportunities to take a peek at proposed changes to the street at a community development public hearing Tuesday. There will be another public hearing held at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 23, before the Selectmen's meeting.
At the public hearing, all agreed the street, which saw its last upgrade back in the 1980s, is in need of work.
But Town Administrator Jonathan Butler ventured a step further, saying the application, which seeks $900,000 in federal 2013 Community Development Block Grant funds from the state, could keep things rolling in a crucial way, at a crucial time, for the town.
"Right now, even more so than a year ago, we're on the cusp of something very interesting in downtown," he said, pointing to four new businesses -- and potentially three more to be added inside the Mausert Block building -- since this fall. " ... We have a momentum that is really starting to build."
This should, Butler said, tie in with recent improvements to the Adams Visitors Center, a coming extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail to Lime Street and, potentially, new ownership of the Jones Block after an auction of the building scheduled for Jan. 24.
"We have a lot of positives in a row that are really setting the table for a nice 2013," Butler said. "It's going to be a hell of an improvement to Park Street."
David Loring, an engineer with project designers Tighe & Bond -- who agreed the project would "breath new life into downtown" -- thought this year's prospects look good.
"We're very optimistic this time," he said.
Last year, a similar application was denied despite scoring highly with the state.
The improvements -- a new roadway and sidewalks, three curb extensions, added bike lanes and new drains and sewers, as well as street amenities -- were estimated at $650,000 last year, and probably won't be subject to dramatic change, Loring said.
"Right now I'm expecting some [price differential] but not a significant amount," Loring said in response to a question from resident Jeffrey Lefebvre. " ... Some treatments can use less costly materials, so we have options. ... One thing we don't want to do is sacrifice [sewer, drain] infrastructure."
The remaining grant funds, if awarded, would go toward town administrative costs and continuing the downtown housing rehabilitation project.
Also in the case that the funds are awarded, Director of Community Development Donna Cesan expects bid-ready documents as early as August. Prep work would be done before winter, while the bulk of the job would be done during the 2014 construction season.
"As far as the mainstream traffic flow, yes, it will be slowed down," Loring said, addressing the potential effects of construction on the town's central road. "But much of the underground infrastructure work is at the curb line and out of the way, so we shouldn't have major interruptions to the traffic flow."
To reach Phil Demers, email