New paving project for McMahon Elementary

·3 min read

Jun. 16—This week in the Buzz, we're opening, planning, paving, keeping our credit cards in the freezer and we're definitely not working on our pandemic bods.

More on Maine's shortest-in-the-nation workout sessions in a sec. Grab a loose tee and start stretching.

First up: McMahon Elementary, now with more parking lot.

The Lewiston Planning Board unanimously approved a new $600,000 project at the elementary school this week that expands the paved parking lot on North Temple Street by nearly half an acre and adds 74 spaces, bringing it to 189 spaces total.

The project also adds a "grass stormwater filter basin" and five new light poles, according to a memo to the board by City Planner Doug Greene.

Project architect and engineer Harriman noted in the application that the parking expansion is to accommodate existing staff and visitors and isn't an indication of increasing numbers of staff or students.

"The school department wants to start work on the McMahon School parking lot expansion as soon as they can," Greene said.

Also unanimously approved by that board this week in a development review: Picker House Lofts.

The 72-unit affordable housing project by Szanton Monks Properties is planned for the five-story, former Picker House building at the Continental Mill.

Earlier this month, the City Council signed off on creating a tax increment financing district for the project.

Developer Nathan Szanton said Tuesday that he'd like to see construction start next June or July but needs two pieces of funding in place first: MaineHousing's Low Income Housing Tax Credits and federal historic preservation tax credits.

"We feel very good about the chances for (the historic tax credits) because we know that it's not competitive and we know exactly what we need to do," he said. "For the affordable housing tax credit, in a typical year MaineHousing gets 17 to 18 applications and they can fund about five projects. It's very, very competitive. We have a very good track record of getting those, but we never feel confident; we try to do everything we can to improve our score but we let the chips fall where they may."

The company will apply in late August for the MaineHousing credits and should hear in October if they've been awarded, Szanton said.

If they aren't, Szanton will reapply in August 2022, and if awarded that fall, it would push the project back to a summer 2023 start.

Sunday River Brewing Co. in Bethel reopened June 9 as tentatively planned.

A week earlier, incoming owner Michael Boland had been waiting for final state licenses and hoping to hit that target date.

"Opening night and the first weekend back was fantastic and very well received," Boland said. "Customers are thanking the staff."

The restaurant is open now for lunch and dinner every day but Tuesdays.

"We'd be open seven days (a) week if we had enough labor," he said.

Boland is buying the restaurant from brothers Rick and Ron Savage who made frequent headlines last year for protesting pandemic restrictions, ultimately having their liquor and restaurant licenses tied up in court.

WalletHub studied 2021 credit card debt around the country and found residents in Lewiston carried, on average, the third-lowest credit card debt among 182 metropolitan areas in the U.S.

As of last winter, people here had an average household credit card debt of $8,325. Portland, Maine came in at $10,167.

The highest average in the country: Santa Clarita, California at $18,462.

WalletHub used numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and TransUnion.

Let's remember we have something to be proud of because there's also this:

A survey for IRunFar.com found that the average length of a home workout session in Maine during the pandemic was six minutes, the lowest in the country.

Arkansas was barely above Maine at seven minutes and Delaware shamed the rest of the country with a way-above-everybody-else 50 minutes.

It might be a good day to get in a run.

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