WATERVILLE — After three workshops that included hands-on activities and lots of input from people in the community, architects are ready to synthesize into one concept a picture of what Castonguay Square may look like after it is redesigned.

The large park which is mostly green space in the heart of the city has not been revamped since 1986 and residents, city officials, business people, arts advocates and others have been meeting to help redesign the square to make it more user-friendly and beautiful.

On Wednesday, the architects and about 50 people turned out for the third and final workshop in the Chace Community Forum at Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.

Neil Kittredge, an architect from Beyer Blindle Belle, of New York, who has been working on the project, presented three concepts he and other consultants developed from five concepts the community put together in former workshops.

The three architectural concepts are labeled “Flexible Plaza & Serene Green,” “Civic & Cultural Hub,” and “Water Walk.”

After participants Wednesday broke into five groups to discuss the three concepts, a representative from each group reported back to the larger group. They reported all five groups favor “Civic & Cultural Hub.”

That concept includes a plaza in the square on the Main Street side which Kittredge said is sort of like an outdoor extension of the arts life that will take place in The Center building next to the square. That building is scheduled to be transformed into a center for art and film that will have a glass front as it meets the square. The rest of the two-thirds of the square toward Front Street would be green space with the section close to City Hall a large, grassy lawn, according to the concept.

A smaller plaza would be built in front of City Hall for memorial events and other gatherings and the steps of City Hall would be not only to the east and west as they are now, but also to the south. A temporary stage would be in front of City Hall with a larger seating area south of that stage.

Common Street could be closed off for special events, according to the concept, and the angle of parking on Common would be changed from angle to parallel.

Resident Judy Cabana noted that with that concept, parking is eliminated on Main Street.

“There’s parking eliminated on part of Main Street, but this is just a concept,” Kittredge noted, adding that there is still plenty of time for comment and changes.

Kittredge and another architect from his firm, Rayna Erlich, as well as Bob Metcalf and other landscape architects from Mitchell & Associates, of Portland, will now take all of the community input received at the workshops and develop one concept they will present at a meeting sometime in February, according to Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates! which hosted the workshops with the city and Colby. Mitchell & Associates designed the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, which plays into the redesign of the square as workshop participants say it is important to have connectivity between the two.

The planning part of the square redesign project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program, with support from the city, Colby College and area residents, businesses and others.

The workshops were held as Waterville Creates! and Colby work to raise $18 million to $20 million to redevelop The Center into the art and film center and Colby is investing millions into downtown revitalization projects.

Many people at meetings have raised the issue of parking and whether there will be enough, with all the changes to downtown. Erlich said Wednesday that as part of the transformation of The Center, part of the back of the building on the Front Street side, would be removed, creating the potential for up to 20 new parking spaces.

Waterville Creates! last year was awarded a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program for the square redesign planning process.

Castonguay Square is used for all sorts of activities, including the farmers market, the Taste of Waterville, the holiday festival Kringleville, Waterville Rocks! concerts, weddings and more.

The concept “Flexible Plaza & Serene Green” called for removing the small City Hall parking lot off Front Street and placing a stage on that east end of the square and making it a sunnier and more visible space. Now, the area is shaded, dark and mostly unused. The “Water Walk” concept called for having a plaza in the middle of the square that is tied to City Hall, with green space on both sides. A water fountain would serve as a gateway on the Main Street end, and a park-like area would be developed around “Ellie,” the old elm that will be kept in the square.

In all three concepts, the old horse watering trough is maintained in the square.

Kittredge noted that in all the historical photographs of the square that he and others have looked at, the horse trough is present.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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