HALLOWELL — Architecture students at the University of Maine at Augusta have been re-imagining Hinkley Point, an unused section of land on the Kennebec River that once served as an oil storage facility and is still owned by a Texas company, but that some local officials have expressed interest in redeveloping.

On Friday night, the architecture students presented their conceptual designs, which attempted to show ways Hinkley Point could be repurposed as a recreational area.

The designs, which were presented at a downtown gallery space, showed how everything from boathouses to art galleries to sledding hills could be incorporated into that wooded parcel of land, which is between the Kennebec River and the rail trail that connects Gardiner and Augusta.

“My project is mostly about bringing people to the waterfront from the existing rail trail,” said one student, Jaimee Anderson, of Portland.

Her design included a renovation of a building that’s already on the site, making it into a two-story community center that would be angled out in two directions, drawing attention to both the river and the nearby greenery. The design also includes a boathouse and path through the property.

Anderson gave the community center a “log cabin-type feel,” she said, because she didn’t want the structure to distract from Hallowell’s already “unique character.”

Anderson’s instructor, Paul Fowler, gave his students the Hinkley Point assignment to reach out to the community and focusing on redesigning an existing structure, he said.

“The students did a good job envisioning what you could do out here that’s new,” Fowler said, gesturing to a model of Hinkley Point. “I got to give them projects that were somewhat real and useful to the city.”

Nate Rudy, Hallowell’s city manager, also worked with the students. He said the town has been talking with officials at the company that owns the site, Buckeye Partners, about the possibility of revitalizing it. The town also has applied for a federal, environmental remediation grant that would support any redevelopment of the site.

By having students present their concepts Friday night, he said, he hoped it would generate local interest in redeveloping Hinkley Point. He first approached the architecture school about the collaboration last fall.

“Helping a community look at a place that most people might have looked away from is the first step to revitalization,” Rudy said. “Working with the architecture students seemed like an obvious choice. I was thrilled when they said ‘yes’ to the idea.”

Any new uses for that property also could have benefits for people who live in the other communities along the river — Augusta, Gardiner and Farmingdale — that are connected by the rail trail, Rudy said.

Sam Webber, the city historian, was among the visitors to the exhibit on a rainy Friday night and said he appreciated the visions put forth by each of the students.

“It’s too bad it’s just sitting there,” he said of Hinkley Point. “It’s a beautiful site.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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