Summer Construction Planned for Waterfront Area
Downtown Waterville might look significantly different next year. A waterfront planning committee comprised of local residents, city councilors and other city officials has proposed a construction project that would revitalize the city's waterfront along the Kennebec River.
Among the proposed changes are a new tree-lined walkway from Temple Street to the river, a waterfront plaza with a kiosk and benches and new decking on the Two Cent Bridge, which would allow pedestrians to cross from Waterville to Winslow. The planning committee presented its vision for a new Waterville waterfront at a public meeting last week.
The city planners anticipate creating a walkway that will stretch from Temple Street to the Two Cent Bridge. New trees and lamp posts will be placed adjacent to the walkway and along the river. City contractors hope that these trees will create a 'canopy effect,' opening up to a new waterfront plaza.
Funding for this project will primarily come from a $210,000 Community Development Block Grant provided by the state government. However, City Manager Michael Roy explained that Waterville would also match the project amount in funds and labor.
In addition to the walkway and plaza design, plans for construction on the Two Cent Bridge are scheduled for this summer. The Maine Department of Transportation has allocated $263,000 to improve the structural integrity of the bridge, including new decking.
The waterfront's current name, Head of Falls, will be changed to Ticonic Falls, which dates back to the title it was given in the eighteenth century. In the long run, members of the planning committee hope to add businesses and even housing along the Ticonic Falls. A riverfront trail system that would start at the entrance of the Two Cent Bridge has also been suggested.
Once a final proposal and a design of the waterfront have been approved, the city will then put the project out to bid. Several contractors have submitted potential designs, including Ekistics Planning & Design of Bangor. According to Assistant City Engineer John Lombardi, the committee will decide on a bid in May and then start construction in June. He estimates that the project could be finished as early as August.
Members of the community have been generally supportive of the proposed construction. At least 25 residents were present at last week's meeting.
"It has a big economic impact," Faye Nicholson, the executive director of Revitalize the Energy in Maine (REM), said in a press release. She also serves on the riverfront planning committee.
Not only would the project bring new life to the downtown area, but Nicholson also believes that it would attract more people to the city, especially those who want to fish along the Kennebec.
City officials have also endorsed the initial plans. Roy, the City Engineer Greg Brown and many city councilors were present at the public meeting last week to offer their suggestions.
Roy said that the most important aspect for him was a new walkway to be built along the riverbank.
"I hope we can keep that in our vision," he said in a press release.