WATERVILLE — The city has received a $100,000 grant from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation toward construction of the $1.5 million RiverWalk at Head of Falls, leaving the amount yet to be raised at about $56,000, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

Roy said Wednesday that The Hathaway Business Group, which owns Hathaway Creative Center, last week also donated $10,000 to the RiverWalk.

“The donations come at a very, very critical time for the project,” he said. “We’re probably one month away from finishing, and we thought we had stalled. We’re so appreciative of the Sewall Foundation’s gift and the gift from Hathaway. We’re also very, very happy with the work that Garvan Donegan from Central Maine Growth Council did to help us apply for the Sewall Foundation money. He deserves credit for helping us apply for that.”

Gordon Contracting Inc., of Sangerville, is building the RiverWalk, which is expected to be completed by Sept. 1 and will be dedicated Oct. 6 with a speech by former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell, who lived at Head of Falls as a child and was raised in Waterville.

Mitchell; his sister, Barbara Mitchell Atkins; brother John Mitchell; and their families donated $100,000 to help build the RiverWalk, and the city plans to name the gazebo in the park for the Mitchells.

Roy and Lisa Hallee are co-leaders of the RiverWalk Advisory Committee, which has raised money for the project. Its elements include a 900-foot boardwalk along the river; the gazebo, which will overlook the river at the southern end of the park; a large children’s play area with a water component and information kiosks; and trees, flower gardens and art installations illustrating the city’s rich history related to industry and the river. Mitchell & Associates landscape designers, of Portland, designed the RiverWalk.

Roy said people may buy concrete pavers to be installed at the RiverWalk for $350 each and they may be engraved with a name or words. A sample paver may be viewed in the City Hall office of Sarah Bowen, executive assistant to Roy, the mayor and city solicitor.

Bowen said Thursday that 10 $1,000 and 24 $500 granite pavers have been sold, and they will form a circle under the Mitchell gazebo. Plenty of smaller pavers are available. Those pavers will form the walk leading to the gazebo. Those wanting to buy pavers may see Bowen at City Hall, call her at 680-4204 or buy them online at riverwalkathof.com

In 2015, the Waterville Rotary Club donated $150,000 for the RiverWalk to celebrate the club’s centennial. Other donations from various businesses, organizations and individuals followed.

Head of Falls, on the Kennebec River off Front Street, is steeped in history. People migrated to the riverfront from Lebanon, Canada and elsewhere to work in the mills and live there. 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 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 homes at Head of Falls were torn down during urban renewal, and the city burned down the Wyandotte mill in the 1970s.

The city several years ago installed water, sewer, electricity and parking on the riverfront. 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 think 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.

This spring, the city moved “The Ticonic” sculpture, by Roger Majorowicz, from The Concourse downtown to the riverfront; and it will be re-dedicated Oct. 6, the day of the RiverWalk opening and ribbon-cutting.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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