WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday voted 6-0 to use up to $300,000 from tax increment financing accounts to help fund a $1.5 million riverwalk project for Head of Falls that will include a 900-foot boardwalk along the Kennebec River, a gazebo, a large children’s play area, art installations and landscaping.

The $300,000 would be taken from the downtown TIF account and the student apartment complex TIF account over a three-year period in increments of $100,000 a year.

The council must take one more vote to finalize the TIF funding and is expected to consider that second vote later this month.

City Manager Michael Roy said earlier Tuesday that more donations for the RiverWalk had been received in the last couple of days, leaving $223,000 needed to<URL destination=”https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/01/19/fundraising-for-watervilles-1-5-million-riverwalk-hits-halfway-mark/”> reach the $1.5 million mark.

</URL>”We’re very encouraged by the amount raised to date,” Roy said. “We still have a ways to go, but I think that we’re confident we’ll be able to raise the full sum in a month or two.”

The student apartment complex Colby College is building downtown is expected to generate $65,000 beginning in the 2018-19 tax year. A minimum of $35,000 is expected to be generated in the larger downtown TIF account, according to the order councilors voted on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, councilors also voted 6-0 to award a $1.18 million contract to Gordon Contracting Inc., of Sangerville, for the RiverWalk project. Only one vote was needed to award that contract.

The city received two bids for the project: $1.18 million from Gordon and $1.47 from Ranger Contracting, of Oakland.

Councilors also took the first of two needed votes to accept donations for the RiverWalk project and authorize Roy to spend those funds for completing it. They must take one more vote on that order.

Roy and Lisa Hallee are co-leaders of the RiverWalk Advisory Committee, which has raised the funds for the project.

Work on the RiverWalk is expected to start in May and to be completed in September in time for a Sept. 29 dedication.

Mitchell & Associates landscape designers, of Portland, designed the RiverWalk.

Donations include $150,000 from Waterville Rotary Club; $50,000 from Waterville Development Corp.; $300,000 the city raised locally to match a $300,000 grant from Land and Water Conservation funds; $150,000 from Kennebec Savings Bank; $75,000 from Colby College; and $100,000 from former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell, his sister, Barbara Atkins, their brother, John Mitchell, and their families. The city plans to name the gazebo in the park for the Mitchells.

People migrated to the riverfront from places such as Lebanon and Canada to work in the mills and live at Head of Falls. That history and the log drives that ended on the river in the 1970s will be part of the interactive educational components to be included in the RiverWalk project.

In the play area, for instance, children will be able to play around a “log drive” installation and hand-pump activity to learn about the river and how it flows. They also may learn about the history of the area, including the mills and the people, as well as the economy and ecology and biology of the river.

The city several years ago installed water, sewer, electricity and parking at Head of Falls, which is off Front Street. In 2010 the city built a plaza west of the Two Cent Bridge that includes benches, an informational kiosk, a walkway and landscaping. The city owns 14 acres at Head of Falls, and officials believe that the RiverWalk will be the catalyst for more development on the riverfront, which serves as the hub for Kennebec Messalonskee Trails, whose network through area towns can be accessed from that point.

The homes at Head of Falls were torn down during urban renewal, and the Wyandotte mill was burned down by the city in the 1970s.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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