WATERVILLE — Area residents got a first look Wednesday night at a proposed $500,000 river-walk project at Head of Falls that is to include new lighting, a long “kid friendly” railing, a lookout point and art and cultural displays in a loop along the Kennebec River with four-season possibilities.

City Manager Mike Roy, in introducing representatives from Mitchell & Associates, landscape designers from Portland, said the proposed Waterville River Walk will be an important part of “what’s happening” in downtown Waterville with space some day for three commercial buildings inside the Head of Falls loop.

“Here’s what it looks like today, folks,” Roy said as a picture of the area was displayed on a large screen. “It’s what it’s looked like for 46 years.”

Roy also noted that Waterville is fortunate to have river frontage and such a rich, cultural history that will be incorporated into the area of the walkway, which already features a plaza that was completed in 2010.

“People may be coming to the city to go to the walkway and then say, oh, let’s take a look at Waterville’s downtown and see what there is to offer,” Roy told a group of about 25 people.

Sashie Misner from Mitchell & Associates offered the first public presentation on the project in city council chambers Wednesday night. The ambitious project promises a walkway along the river with a railing and a 900-foot-long concrete trail with landscaping and lighting.

The railing will be decorative but also will serve safety purposes, Misner said, offering photographs of the different types of railings that would be “kid friendly.” The railing itself may be among the most expensive parts of the project, she said.

There will also be at least one lookout point on the river walk.

Misner described future space for a full range of possible activities within the loop for people of all ages, from a logging display, picnic tables and a section representing the industrial aspect of that part of the river to “playful” areas for children and plenty of parking.

Roy said earlier that there are some elements of the design that the city is not proposing at this time, such as a new gazebo and wooden walking paths, but other ideas within the scope of the first phase would include lighting, natural plantings and benches.

The total cost of the walkway is expected to be around $900,000, but an advisory committee is proposing a project at approximately $500,000 for now, and leaving out pieces of the design that could be added later.

At this point in time, there’s no plan for any city funding to be part of the construction, Roy has said.

Roy said the Waterville Rotary Club has pledged $150,000 toward the project to celebrate the club’s centennial anniversary, and the City Council will be asked to approve sending an application to the state for $300,000 in federal grant funding.

Roy said the city also hopes to get private contributions to help construct the river walk.

The city’s Riverwalk Advisory Committee has been meeting this year to come up with the river-walk design, but the group will not make any recommendations regarding the land at Head of Falls that is not part of the river walk, according to Roy. The city hopes construction of the river walk will start next year and be completed in 2018, he said.

The next step will be asking councilors to authorize the city to apply for the $300,000 grant. The deadline for submitting the grant proposal is Nov. 18.

The city several years ago installed underground water, sewer and electricity at Head of Falls and cleared the property at a cost of a little over $1 million. In 2010, the city built a plaza west of the Two Cent Bridge that includes benches, trees and other plantings, as well as an informational kiosk and lights.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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