WATERVILLE — The big event many people have been waiting for — the day traffic will become two-way on both Main and Front streets downtown — is Nov. 5.

City Manager Steve Daly made the announcement at Tuesday’s council meeting, noting that a ribbon-cutting will be held the day before, on Nov. 4, to celebrate the event. It will be hosted on the south patio of the Lockwood Hotel on Main Street, he said.

The public and others are invited, including Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Colby College President David Greene and Mayor Jay Coelho, according to Daly.

Daly said he has been working with DOT, Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Colby and Waterville Creates officials in planning for the event, which he hopes will be followed by a larger celebration next year.

“Perhaps we’ll be able to do something more festive in the spring — that’s what our hope is,” Daly said.

The change to two-way traffic is the culmination of a two-year, $11.2 million downtown revitalization project by the city, Colby and the DOT that also includes construction of improved and safer walkways, lighting, landscaping and intersections.


Construction work along Main Street in downtown Waterville that’s part of the $11.2 million revitalization project is coming to a close. City officials announced this week that the work will allow the one-way traffic pattern on Main to become two-way on Nov. 5. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Another announcement made Tuesday is that the Waterville Public Library is scheduled to reopen Oct. 26 after many months of closure during the pandemic and renovations to the library. During that time, people could still borrow books and other items and the library conducted outreach programs.

Cindy Jacobs, president of the library’s board of trustees, said library officials could not be happier to reopen and they think the city will be thrilled with the changes.

“We just can’t wait to welcome all of you into our building,” she said.

Jacobs asked the council to consider at its next meeting making one side of Appleton Street by the library limited to library parking only, on a trial basis, to start when two-way traffic downtown begins. She said 80% of library patrons are older than 60 or younger than 5, and there’s a significant issue with pedestrian safety.

Council Chairperson Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, said she thought that is a great time to try the parking as a pilot project.

“I think it’s a good idea, and I’m certainly willing to bring it to the council,” she said.


The announcements Tuesday followed a public forum hosted by councilors to seek input for how the city can better connect downtown to Head of Falls.

Several people at the meeting generated several ideas for how to improve pathways between the two locations.

Sally Vlodek, whose husband, Ken, and his family have owned Yardgoods Center on The Concourse for many years, said she liked the idea of closing Temple Street and making it a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing place for people to sit on comfortable couches and chairs, walk to and from the riverfront and enjoy the downtown.

“I don’t care how much money you make or if your shirt is torn — that’s fine,” she said. “Come have a rest.”

Her comments followed a discussion about people who hang out on The Concourse during the day and have no other place to go. Some people urged the city to create a place for all people to congregate and socialize. In previous meetings, residents advocated for a community center for that purpose. Vlodek said she has visited cities that have buildings with bathrooms and running water, or mobile showers, for people to use.

Former Waterville Mayor Karen Heck asked if there had been any thought to closing both Appleton and Temple streets. She suggested that be done as pilot projects to coincide with the change to two-way traffic.


“I agree with you, Karen,” Daly said. “Anything we do right now, we should be doing as a pilot.”

Daly said he thought significant investments should not be made for permanent changes until they are deemed successful.

“You probably will see us trying out things over the next year or two,” he said.

Officials hadn’t talked about closing Temple Street to vehicles, but they had discussed widening the sidewalks and doubling the street lighting there, according to Daly.

Linda Woods urged officials to talk to people who cross Front Street, saying that when she worked in City Hall, she parked at Head of Falls and walked across the street to get there, which was dangerous.

“Many people consider Front Street to be a raceway,” she said.


Others recommended building a parking garage, creating covered walkways and having more lighting between downtown and Head of Falls to make the area safer.

“I love the idea of covered walkways, especially if they are lit,” Nancy Sanford said.

Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, said he wanted to see better connectivity between the city and green spaces at places such as Head of Falls and the island south of the Hathaway Creative Center.

Diane Weinstein proposed a multistory, multiuse building adjacent to City Hall that could house City Council chambers and have sheltered parking with an entrance to City Hall, the Waterville Opera House and Paul J. Schupf Art Center.

Several people said they think the new configuration around Burger King and Dunkin’ along College Avenue poses a problem for people trying to exit those places and for motorists trying to exit the U.S. Post Office to turn left to head downtown.

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