WATERVILLE — The planning process for improving the perimeter of downtown is set to start in earnest next week as representatives of Beyer Blinder Belle, an architectural and planning firm from New York City, begins holding listening sessions to get public input.

City Council Chairperson Rebecca Green laid out the schedule for the process Tuesday as the council held its fifth and final forum for residents to present ideas and ask questions about everything from parking to public spaces. Dates for the listening sessions will be announced.

The sessions will include participation from institutions downtown including Waterville Creates, Waterville Public Library, Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, social service providers, elected officials, city staff and others.

Green said the sessions will be followed in early November with public meetings to get ideas and present solutions.

The first meeting, according to Green, will be a general information gathering. In early December, another session will be hosted for sharing concepts and a third and final meeting will be in February for a wrap-up presentation.

The council also will hold additional forums in each of the city’s seven wards, Green said. The idea is to engage people at different times of day and include youth, seniors and people with low income, officials said.


Jim Wood, retired transportation director for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program who now is special projects advisor for KVCAP, said a public bus stop downtown would be important to help increase visibility of transportation services and make it easier for people who may not drive to get into the city.

“It is something that’s pretty prominent in more urban communities,” Wood said. “I think it has a real strong benefit for people in Waterville.”

Resident Diane Weinstein recommended a community center be created and suggested a building for sale at the corner of Main and Appleton streets would fit the bill and could be used for City Council meetings.

Resident Elizabeth Leonard said the poorest community members need to be part of discussions and at the center of all the city is doing.

“They must not be forgotten,” said Leonard, who is part of the Poor People’s Campaign.

The public input sessions are part of the second phase of work to revitalize the city. The one in progress is an $11.2 million downtown revitalization effort by the city, Colby College and the Maine Department of Transportation. It is nearing its final stretch, with Main and Front streets scheduled to be changed Nov. 5 from one-way to two-way traffic.

The area being targeted in the second phase is bounded by Front Street, College Avenue, Elm Street, Spring Street and part of Water Street, according to City Manager Steve Daly.

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