At the next Waterville City Council meeting, on Dec. 17, there will be discussion about changing the layout of the Concourse to create more parking spaces, which will involve the removal of many of the trees there. My concerns are three-fold.

First, trees can make an enormous difference in the micro-climate of the city. Not only do they shade some of the asphalt and cars that otherwise bake in the summer sun all day long and radiates heat for hours afterwards; but also their leaves evaporate moisture, cooling the air in the process.

Second, with the weather getting more extreme and erratic every year, we should be planting more trees, not destroying the ones we have. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, so planting them is one of the easiest things we can do to curb climate change.

Third, if we’re trying to make Waterville more appealing and attractive, an asphalt desert in the middle of town is not going to help. I understand that parking is essential for downtown businesses to thrive, but wouldn’t it make sense to first get the Colby students who live downtown to park in the Appleton Street lot, which Colby made specifically for this purpose?

Waterville sold part of the Concourse to Colby and allowed them to build a dorm there with the understanding that students would not park in the Concourse — but they are parking there nonetheless.

I understand that certain parts of the Concourse are no longer optimal. It makes sense to re-shape the area where the sculpture used to be, and Haines park is no longer used now that its functions have been moved to the River Walk.

But beyond these changes, I think the additional parking spaces come at too great a cost — environmentally, aesthetically and financially.


Claire Prontnicki


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