AUGUSTA — The old tissue mill is gone from the east side riverfront, and the hospital, too, is moving out of that part of the city.

City councilors said Thursday they agreed with a committee report that proposes several dramatic ideas for the future of the east side of Augusta, ranging from creating a way for pedestrians to get from the west side downtown across the Kennebec River on the old railroad trestle to bringing new uses to the former mill site.

Councilor Patrick Paradis said the report’s recommendations “are not easily accomplished, but will be tremendous for the city.”

“I think you have the support of the council, right now, for some of the ideas you want to bring forward,” he said to the committee.

With the council’s positive reaction, City Manager William Bridgeo said he will work with Councilor Darek Grant, chairman of the Eastside Planning Committee, to craft a proposal to start working on implementing many of the recommendations of the report.

For starters, they’ll have to figure out what to do with the vestiges of the area’s past and current uses.

Like the old, about to be vacant MaineGeneral hospital and its riverfront parking lots.

As well as the privately owned OneSteel metal recycling yard next to the former Statler and American Tissue site, where there has been a scrapyard for nearly a century.

And the city’s snow dump, which is beside the east side boat landing directly under Memorial Bridge, and “is a highly visible and significant visual blemish on the landscape that often lasts to the beginning of August,” the committee report states.

Grant said the city must work closely with MaineGeneral when the hospital relocates to its new complex now under construction in north Augusta.

Grant said hospital officials acknowledge finding a new user for the old hospital building could be a challenge. He said MaineGeneral has said if a new user can’t be found for the building, the hospital may be more inclined to demolish the building rather than leave it standing vacant.

Grant noted the hospital’s riverside parking lots have potential for redevelopment because of their proximity to the river.

The committee report also suggests the city work with the steel recycling yard to help the business find a new location.

And, Grant said, despite failed efforts to move the city’s snow dump, the time may be right to revisit that issue and try to find a new place to dispose of the snow.

Other recommendations of the 23-page report include improving access by both motorists and pedestrians to the former Statler site, which is currently accessible through residential Maple Street, where at least two committee members live, and steep Drumbarker Road, ownership of which, Grant said, is unclear.

The report suggests Locke Street as a potential new primary access to the site because of the traffic signal at its intersection with Bangor Street and its proximity to the middle of the site. Doing so, however, would require a road and sidewalk extension and an at-grade railroad track crossing.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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