Flowers line the entryway Wednesday to City Hall, above Castonguay Square in downtown Waterville. Officials at a City Council meeting Tuesday night said plans to redesign Castonguay Square have faltered. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — A plan to redesign Castonguay Square in the heart of downtown, on which architects, city and Colby College officials and about 150 Waterville residents worked in 2018 and 2019, will not happen as imagined, according to Mayor Jay Coelho.

That surprise declaration came after resident Judy Cabana, 83, who was part of the planning process, asked at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting what happened to the money that was to help fund the redesign.

“Inflation,” Coelho said. “Everything’s just gotten so much more expensive.”

The mayor said any redesign of Castonguay Square will not be as planned during the initial process.

Cabana said she was disappointed, after all the effort so many people put into the redesign, which included months of planning and a series of workshops that members of the public attended.

“We did a lot of work on that and it was going to look great and be great,” Cabana said, “and now it’s not going to happen.”


Coelho said he agreed it was a lot of work, but that was no consolation to Cabana.

“I don’t like the sound of it, but I guess I can’t fight City Hall,” she said.

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning, said one of the challenges the parties encountered with funding was a federal BUILD grant the city was awarded, and the historic preservation requirements associated with federal dollars. The plan developed for Castonguay Square did not meet the historic preservation requirements put forward by the state, Clark said.

“It could not be done through the federal program,” he said, adding he thinks every one is committed to doing something with the square, which warrants redesign.

Clark said he thinks it important to pick up on that planning process from two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and take ideas from it to help improve Castonguay Square, which is an important part of the city center.

City Hall is shown Wednesday with Castonguay Square in the foreground in downtown Waterville. A walkway that will connect the Paul J. Schupf Art Center to City Hall and the Waterville Opera House is visible at left. Officials at a City Council meeting Tuesday night said plans to redesign Castonguay Square have faltered. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners of New York City irm, worked with Mitchell & Associates landscape architects from Portland on the project. The design was to have included walkways and gardens, a plaza, green space and an improved connection to the RiverWalk at Head of Falls, which Mitchell & Associates designed. A curving boardwalk and a heritage walk leading to and from City Hall were also planned.


Castonguay Square is next to City Hall 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.

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.

Part of the $7.37 million BUILD grant awarded to the city was to be used for the second phase of design and construction of the square. The BUILD grant also is being used as part of the $11.2 million revitalization project taking place downtown.

A plaque on a large rock marks the location of Castonguay Square, next to City Hall in downtown Waterville. The square was named for Master Sgt. Arthur Castonguay, who was the first person from Waterville to die in World War I. He died from wounds suffered in France in June 1918. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The redesign of Castonguay Square was to have happened sometime after completion this year of the $18 million Paul J. Schupf Art Center. The art center overlooks the square.

The issue arose Tuesday night as councilors held a third session to get public input on what the downtown should include beyond the revitalization occurring now. Several people emphasized the need to include people from all racial, social, cultural and economic backgrounds in the planning process. Beyer Blinder Belle is working with the city on the process.

City Manager Steve Daly said the focus Tuesday was on discussing the pedestrian experience in The Concourse and elsewhere in the downtown area.


The process is to include a listening tour with times and locations to be advertised on the city’s website (, on Facebook and in newspapers, Daly said. Meetings are being panned to garner ideas and then narrow them down to determine what would be included in the plans. At a session Sept. 6, residents cited a community center and more parking for Waterville Public Library as needs.

In other matters Tuesday, city councilors postponed voting on adopting a vacant building ordinance to allow time for the Planning Board to consider the proposal and make recommendations.

Councilors also voted 4-1 to waive Maine Department of Transportation dark sky lighting requirements for the Ticonic Bridge replacement project. The state DOT requested the waiver to enable installation of street lighting fixtures on the bridge that would be consistent with those on Main Street in the downtown area.

Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, voted against the action, saying he did not see why the city should spend $44,000 for the lights, and electricity, to be non-environmentally friendly. Winslow is also spending an equal amount for the lighting.

Coelho read aloud a proclamation recognizing police Officers Mikayla Hodge and Jake Whitley for their actions after a vehicle crash Aug. 6, when they removed an injured driver from an automobile as it burst into flames.

The city dedicated the 2021-22 annual report to Paula Raymond, a member of the South End Neighborhood Association who was the driving force behind establishing the Moor Street garden and related tool shed. Raymond also serves on many boards and committees, and is always looking for ways to help improve the city, according to Coelho.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.