Heavy rainfall led to rising water May 1 that damaged the parking lot at the Skowhegan Plaza on U.S. Route 201. The parking lot and an adjacent walkway on Mill Street are frequently damaged by floodwater.  Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — The town Planning Board gave New Balance Athletics Inc. approval this week to reinforce a walkway on Mill Street that is frequently destroyed by floodwater.

The walkway begins at the entrance of a warehouse owned by New Balance at 2 Main St., and runs along the building’s length down Mill Street.

The walkway and the adjacent Skowhegan Plaza parking lot on Main Street are located in a flood hazard zone. The area has been a yearslong headache for town officials and business owners at the plaza.

According to a flood hazard development application New Balance submitted to the Planning Board, the walkway has flooded out twice just in the past five months.

In July, President Joe Biden approved a federal disaster declaration for spring flooding in Maine’s counties, including Somerset.

“Where that walkway was, it’s all torn up. That whole area has been destroyed by water,” a Planning Board member said Tuesday.


The problem is that when it rains heavily, a drainage pipe that carries a brook under U.S. Route 201 swells and overflows, inundating the plaza parking lot and walkway with water, according to Joel Greenwood, Skowhegan’s town planner.

The Planning Board unanimously approved New Balance’s application Tuesday, after a brief discussion. The board’s decision allows the company to rebuild the walkway by replacing its concrete, reinforcing it and adding riprap, which will protect it from being destroyed or eroded by floodwater.

The project is expected to cost $155,000, according to the application.

Skowhegan officials do not have a plan in place for shoring up the rest of the flood hazard zone on Main Street, Greenwood said Thursday, noting that the plaza’s parking lot is privately owned.

“I’m not sure what recourse the town has at this point,” he said. “We obviously can’t do anything on private property, but it is (flooding) more often.”

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