WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday will consider taking a second and final vote to sell a 0.77-acre part of The Concourse to Colby College for $300,000 so the college can build a dormitory there for students and faculty and staff members.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown, where councilors also will consider taking a final vote to adopt a 180-day marijuana moratorium.

Colby wants to buy the northeast corner of The Concourse, where the Waterville Downtown Farmers Market sets up on Thursdays in warmer months. The lot proposed for sale to Colby has 90 parking spaces; the entire Concourse has more than 600 spaces.

As part of Colby’s efforts to help the city revitalize downtown, it wants to build a four- or five-story dormitory and build a program around civic engagement and community service in which students living downtown would intern or volunteer at nonprofit organizations.

Colby College on Friday posted a page with frequently asked questions on the dormitory proposal for The Concourse. The page says the development would add about 150 new people to the area, bringing “vitality and consumer dollars during the days and evenings” while helping make downtown Main Street more pedestrian-friendly. The students living there would be “dedicated to civic engagement” and “would contribute to the city in many ways,” the page states.

The building’s first floor must be used for retail or commercial activities as opposed to residential, per city ordinance. Colby also has bought five deteriorating and vacant buildings downtown with plans to partner with investors and develop them into retail and office space, as well as other uses. A downtown hotel and arts-related entities have been identified as priorities.

Councilors voted 7-0 Feb. 2 to approve The Concourse sale to Colby, despite pitches by some business owners to delay a vote until a $102,000 traffic study being conducted by the city, Colby and state Department of Transportation is completed in early summer. Some also said they do not believe putting a dormitory in that spot is a good idea and that with more activity downtown, parking will be more difficult.

But city officials say it is important for the traffic study to be completed before any construction or development is done, and the study will address parking and traffic issues, including whether two-way traffic should be restored on Main Street downtown.

City and Colby officials, as well as business leaders and others, met for about six months last year to discuss ways to help revitalize the city, ramp up the arts and cultural offerings, increase the number of people living and working downtown and spur economic development. Addressing vacant buildings was identified as a priority. Colby later bought three buildings on lower Main Street — one at the corner of Appleton and Maine, and another on Appleton.

Businessman Bill Mitchell, who attended the meetings last year, bought two more historic buildings on Common Street to renovate; and more recently, a Colby alumnus, Justin DePre, and his father, Thomas, and brother Tom, bought two buildings on Main Street and are renovating those as well.

Mayor Nick Isgro attended the meetings last year and plans to open Napoli Italian Market with Holy Cannoli owners Tom and Candace Savinelli on Main Street in a couple of weeks. Isgro supports the sale of The Concourse land to Colby.

Some people, though, have raised concerns about the plans. Jennifer Kierstead, president of Jennifer Kierstead Consulting in Waterville, says she and others in the city feel left out of the planning process for the latest revitalization efforts. Kierstead says she and her group want to “create an action plan using the Community Catalyst process, which has been used previously in Waterville with great success.”

On Friday, Isgro said in response to those who have felt left out of discussions about downtown revitalization that there will be plenty of time for their input — and the city welcomes it.

“It’s really premature to be coming to those conclusions,” Isgro said of those who think they were left out. “We are in the very infancy of this whole process, so as we go forward, we will want to have public meetings and public input.”

He said it is important for people to pay attention and stay involved in the process and attend meetings.

“Nobody is going to get everything they want, but we all want to be able to look back together years from now and say, ‘We did something great,'” Isgro said.

City, state and Colby officials and others helped draw Collaborative Consulting, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based technology business, to Waterville. The company is expected to create about 200 jobs within three to five years. Isgro on Friday pointed to a comment that John Williams, Collaborative’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer, made at the Feb. 2 council meeting about one of the reasons the company decided to locate here.

“They’re here because of the excitement that is happening, and those are the kinds of projects continuing to attract new investment downtown,” Isgro said.

He said he thinks everyone recognizes that Waterville needs change and he understands that change is difficult, but if the city keeps doing what it has for decades, traveling down the same path while believing change will happen automatically, “I think we’re fooling ourselves.”

Some people at the Feb. 2 council meeting said Waterville needs a parking garage. Isgro said Friday that’s a possible option.

“That’s certainly one of the possibilities that we’re looking at,” he said. “I think when we complete the traffic and parking study, we’ll know more. We are, as a city, looking and determining various options.”

The study, he said, will generate evidence of what the city should do in that regard.

“That said, let’s face it — I think parking is the least of our problems,” Isgro said. “If the worst problem we have is that it’s so busy downtown that we need to build a parking garage, I think we’re going to be all right.”

Colby President David Greene, who led the meetings last year, said recently that if the council votes to sell the land to Colby, the college would work with developers for about six months, construction of the dormitory probably would occur in 2017, and occupancy would take place in the 2018-19 school year.

City Manager Michael Roy has said the downtown revitalization work will not occur right away and will take time to accomplish, so people should not expect to see great changes in the near future.

In an unrelated matter, councilors Tuesday will consider placing a 180-day moratorium on dealing with requests to open marijuana businesses in the city, to give the city time to research appropriate sites and decide what restrictions should be placed on the facilities. Councilors voted Feb. 2 to refer to the Planning Board a request to recommend to the council appropriate locations for marijuana-related businesses and appropriate restrictions for those businesses.

Meanwhile, the Planning Board will host a public hearing at 7 p.m. at Feb. 22 in the council chambers to consider recommendations to the council about the locations and restrictions. The public hearing will be held during a regular board meeting.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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