Waterville officials are asking the public to participate in efforts to maintain flower beds and help with other beautification efforts at the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, which extends along the Kennebec River in downtown Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The public is being asked to help maintain planting beds along the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, an activity the Rotary Club of Waterville already undertakes on a volunteer basis.

Former City Manager Michael Roy, a member of the Rotary Club who co-chaired the committee that raised money for the $1.5 million RiverWalk, told the City Council on Tuesday the new Adopt a Garden program will use a tri-party arrangement, where the city and volunteers will help maintain the RiverWalk and contractors will be used for larger improvement projects.

Meanwhile, councilors voted 5-0 to establish a reserve account for maintaining, caring for and improving the RiverWalk. As part of the vote, $179,427 in the RiverWalk project account is to be transferred to the new reserve account. The money will be used for extrabudgetary maintenance, capital replacement and improvements and matching funds for grants obtained for the same purposes, including lighting the Two Cent Bridge.

Future unrestricted donations for the care of the RiverWalk area, and all other revenue generated through its use, is to be deposited into the new reserve account. City Manager Steve Daly will be authorized to spend no more than $10,000 a year from the account.

The RiverWalk opened in 2018 along the Kennebec River, off Front Street, and features a lighted, 900-foot boardwalk; gazebo; large, interactive children’s play area; and art installations and landscaping, including trees and flowers.

The Rotary Club in 2015 gave the lead gift of $150,000 for the RiverWalk as a way of celebrating the club’s centennial. City councilors also accepted $50,000 from the Waterville Development Corp., and that funding was part of $300,000 the city raised locally to match a $300,000 grant from the national Land and Water Conservation Fund.


Kennebec Savings Bank also donated $150,000, and former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell and members of his family gave $100,000. Other donations included $75,000 from Colby College, $15,000 from Kennebec Messalonskee Trails and $10,000 from Northern Light Inland Hospital.

Jeff Melanson, past Rotary president who was with Roy at Tuesday’s council meeting, organized club members to take part in five work days for planting, pruning, weeding and mulching the plant beds at the RiverWalk. They put in 100 hours of work last year and this year, Roy said.

Two more work days are set for 3 to 4:30 p.m. next Thursday, Aug. 11, and Friday, Aug. 19, and all are invited to help, he said.

Businesses, organizations or others wanting to adopt a bed should contact Roy, whose information will be placed on the city’s website — www.waterville-me.gov. Roy said beds will have signs bearing the names of those who adopt them for maintenance.

“I think this really will add a lot to the RiverWalk, and really turns it into a real public-private partnership,” council Chair Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, said. “I hope that a lot of people come out for the work days. It’s an opportunity to make our city more beautiful.”

In other matters, the council voted 5-0 to ratify a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees, which represents 11 city government clerical workers and brings their pay more in line with peers elsewhere.


New owners of the Pagoda Express restaurant at The Concourse reported to the council that people congregate, litter, yell and harass others outside the restaurant. Cindy Jacobs, president of the Waterville Public Library’s board of trustees, said the behavior has been ongoing for years, and people use the area as a toilet.

Councilors discussed the matter at length. Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, said people congregate there because it is a shaded area.

Councilor Flavia DeBrito, D-Ward 2, said many are homeless and need a place to get out of the sun.

Mayor Jay Coelho said there need be more of a police presence there, with Green acknowledging DeBrito’s comments and adding a police officer could ask them if they need a meal or a place to clean up, and let them know what resources are available.

Green also said she has heard complaints there are no trash cans at The Concourse. Any plan the city comes up with to help the new restaurant owners should include a solution for trash disposal in the area, she said.

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