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Local & State
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Updated March 19
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Waterville’s Castonguay Square redesign concept to include walkways, gardens, plaza, green space

Architects working on the park at the heart of the city presented a final concept for the redesign Tuesday night.

WATERVILLE — Castonguay Square downtown would look a lot different than it does now if a concept developed by architects with input from more than 150 residents, city officials, arts advocates and others becomes reality.

It would be billed as an exciting space that celebrates the city’s history and culture, includes “serene green” space, supports local businesses and is family-friendly.

A plaza would be built in front of the City Hall steps to be used for ceremonies, including weddings and other gatherings.

A heritage walk leading to and from City Hall would feature the Arthur L. Castonguay Memorial marker at its center, with markers describing historic events and future memorial sites set in flowering gardens.

The entrance to the square from Main Street would be dynamic, with space for businesses and arts events, including outdoor film, educational activities, food tastings and more.

At the center of the square, a peaceful green space for hosting larger events would be in place. It would be surrounded by lush gardens, a nature-inspired play area and the city’s historic elm tree, nicknamed “Ellie,” next to the historic horse trough that now stands in the square.

Those were the descriptions delineated Tuesday night by Neil Kittredge, a partner in the New York City architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, which has been working with Mitchell & Associates, landscape architects, of Portland, to help develop a final concept for the park. Waterville Creates!, Colby College and the city have been working with the architects on the project, which became possible with lots of public input.

An architect’s rendering of the redesigned Castonguay Square. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

One of the highlights of a redesigned square would be a “water promenade,” or curving boardwalk, that would meander through the park from Main Street to an improved pedestrian connection to the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, Kittredge said. Common Street would be transformed into a terrace that could be closed to traffic for special events and connect businesses along the street to the square. Angle parking would be maintained along the street.

“It’s time to think about Castonguay Square and how it can continue serving the city,” Kittredge said.

About 75 people turned out for the meeting, held in the Chace Community Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St.

The redesign concept was the result of several months of planning and a series of workshops.

Castonguay Square is next to City Hall in the heart of downtown and is used as a park, concert space and venue for small gatherings. The park, which is mostly green space, has not been revamped since 1986.

The redesign process was funded by a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program, with support from the city, Waterville Creates! and Colby College, which hosted the workshops.

Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates!, said more than 150 people contributed ideas to the redesign concept through an inclusive community process.

Haines said the concept will require additional design work to develop final plans for construction.

The park was named for Master Sgt. Arthur Castonguay, of Waterville, who was wounded in action in the Château Thierry battle in Civray, France, in World War I. Two days later, on June 18, 1918, Castonguay died, the first person from Waterville to die in the war.

Through a $7.37 million BUILD grant awarded to the city, funds are available for the next phase of design and for construction of Castonguay Square. The timing of next steps depends on a variety of factors, including other projects planned for the downtown, she said.

She said that although money is available in the BUILD grant, officials are not sure whether more funding will be required for the project.

The $7.37 million BUILD grant is to be used toward a $9.2 million project consisting of infrastructure improvements in downtown Waterville.

Mitchell & Associates designed the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, which plays into the redesign of the square as workshop participants said it is important to have connectivity between the two.

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

City Manager Michael Roy cautioned that people need to be patient about the actual construction of the redesign of Castonguay Square, as what happens there may have to wait until The Center building is transformed into the art and film center. But he urged those who attended Tuesday’s meeting to maintain the vision for the square into the future. He gave a “huge thank-you” to Haines and Waterville Creates!, as well as to the architectural firms involved.

Waterville businessman Bill Mitchell, who has been involved in downtown revitalization plans since the beginning, when Colby President David Greene started leading meetings about four years ago, said Kittredge and his team had done an outstanding job in helping to create a vision for the square.

“I have to tell you, I think you guys have nailed it on this,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who owns several businesses, including on Common Street, said he has worked downtown all his life and appreciates the leadership Colby has shown in the project, and for the support from the Harold Alfond Foundation and the Alfond family.

“I think we owe both Colby and the Alfond family a round of applause for what they are doing for the city of Waterville,” Mitchell said.

With Kittredge Tuesday were Rayna Erlich, a senior associate and urban designer for Beyer Blinder Belle, and Julia Frederick, a landscape architect for Mitchell & Associates. Bob Metcalf, a principal at Mitchell & Associates, who has worked on the project from its inception, was not able to attend Tuesday.

 

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]
Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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