I am very concerned about the recent article in the newspaper regarding Colby’s interest in building a dorm on what is now the northeast corner of the Concourse (“Waterville council to consider selling part of downtown parking lot to Colby College for dormitory,” Jan. 18).

I know Colby likes to build new, LEED-certified buildings, and that retrofitting old buildings can be more expensive than building new ones. However, this is city-owned land we’re talking about, not privately-owned property. Waterville taxpayers funded the studies and planning and construction that went into the re-design of the Concourse, and the new design has worked well, and looks good. The weekly Farmer’s Market has been very well-attended in that open, highly visible spot, and those parking spaces get used during the rest of the week and in winter.

Meanwhile, we have all too many empty or underutilized buildings on privately-owned property downtown. Colby has been buying these up in hopes of attracting developers to fill them with new businesses, which would be great. But if Colby wants a dorm downtown, can’t it keep one of these buildings and either retrofit it for dorm-living, or if necessary tear it down and build on the site?

I’m all in favor of Colby’s efforts to bring more people downtown, and I’m glad to see empty buildings being maintained and (I hope) re-used. But I am very much against building in the Concourse, and messing with what’s already working. Besides, what if some of the grand plans fall through, and we end up with one more empty building downtown?

Claire Prontnicki


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