Waterville’s North Street Recreation Area, with the Alfond Youth & Community Center at the top, is shown in a 2021 aerial view. Photo courtesy of the city of Waterville

WATERVILLE — The city will not be moving soccer fields from North Street to Pine Ridge Recreation Area off West River Road, since a proposal by the Alfond Youth & Community Center to build an ice arena nearby has been scrapped.

Thus, the City Council on Wednesday will consider reallocating about $1.16 million that was to be used for moving the soccer fields and other recreation improvements.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Annex at 46 Front St. and will be preceded at 5:30 p.m. by a council budget workshop to consider proposals for administration, assessing, city clerk, finance, health and welfare, human resources and information technology.

The council in 2021 approved a $2 million bond to improve city recreational assets, and the bond was issued in 2022, according to Matt Skehan, director of both parks and recreation and public works. The money was to be used for North Street and Pine Ridge because at the time, the Alfond Youth & Community Center was planning to build a multimillion dollar hockey and ice skating arena where soccer fields are located on North Street. The plan called for the city to lease the land under the rink to the Alfond Center.

Colby College had donated goals, lighting, glass and other hockey-related equipment to the effort because it was demolishing its field house on campus and building a new $200 million athletic complex.

Initially, the plan was to build the rink closer to the Alfond Center building but officials decided to change the location to diagonally across from MaineGeneral’s Thayer Center for Health, partly because of pushback from neighborhood residents who did not want to see the basketball court moved and trees taken down.


To accommodate the youth soccer program, the city would have had to expand Pine Ridge and its parking area and upgrade facilities there, Skehan said.

In 2022, the city made improvements to six new playgrounds including those on North, Green, Chaplin and Grove streets as well as Western and Hillside avenues. A new skatepark was built at the Green Street Park off Sherwin Hill, a new concession and storage building constructed on Reed Field adjacent to George J. Mitchell School, basketball and tennis courts were rebuilt on North Street, and fencing and signs were erected for projects citywide, according to Skehan.

The city recently learned from the Alfond Center that it was no longer considering North Street as a site for the rink project, Skehan wrote in the memo to councilors and Mayor Bryan Kaenrath. “Because the transition to Pine Ridge is no longer necessary, we are proposing a reallocation of funds,” Skehan wrote.

Alfond Center CEO Ken Walsh said that escalating costs during the pandemic led center officials to reevaluate and look for another site, and they are committed to finding the right spot for it.

“It’s very important for our families and our kids to get skating again,” Walsh said Tuesday. “We will find a location and we will continue to the point where we end up with our objective. It’s taking a little more time.”

Walsh said officials were also sensitive about the fact that people in the community said they didn’t want to lose their soccer fields, which had been on North Street for many years, and took that into consideration.


Mayor Mike Morris said he thinks the initial ice arena proposal became too costly, leading to plans being pared down and another location sought.

“We definitely want to be partners with the AYC,” Morris said. “It’s got to be a good project for both of us.”

Morris, who is a member of the athletics and recreation committee, said city officials would love to have the rink in Waterville and appreciate the opportunity to be involved, although it is possible it could be developed in a nearby community as well.

Waterville City Manager Bryan Kaenrath said Tuesday officials had a brief discussion about building the rink at Head of Falls off Front Street “but for various reasons that wasn’t a good location.”

Meanwhile, councilors on Wednesday are scheduled to consider the budget and staff recommendations for using the remaining $1.16 million in funds from the bond, which includes spending up to $624,800 for further recreational improvements.

“For the final balance of funds, it is recommended the City review data from the 2024 economic impact study for recreation assets (expected Spring 2025), along with council/community input to identify additional improvements,” Skehan says in his memo.


Contacted Tuesday, Skehan said city officials are happy with all of the improvements that were made to recreational facilities in 2022 and accomplished just about everything they wanted to do within budget. But last year, they were in a holding pattern, not knowing what the Alfond Center was going to do as far as a proposed ice arena.

“We’re very excited now to share this with the council and hopefully get a positive nod to go forward,” Skehan said of further proposed improvements. “I think it’ll be great for the city, for the immediate future and for years to come.”

Proposals for spending the $624,800 include using $90,000 for expanded playground features at the North Street Playground, which Skehan notes have already been installed; $78,000 for paving the parking lot; $70,000 for roofing all structures there; $60,000 for the concession, restroom and storage building; $25,000 for a pool bathhouse upgrade; and $16,000 for two picnic shelters. The city has received quotes for all that work.

Also proposed: $120,000 for Pine Ridge trails and $45,000 for softball field LED lights at Rummel’s Field, both of which need quotes from contractors; $27,000 for a picnic shelter at Green Street Park, $19,000 for additional playground features at Chaplin and Grove street playgrounds and $18,000 for a playground and basketball court at Sterling Street Park, all of which represent projects for which the city has received quotes; and amounts to be determined for Pine Ridge soccer field drainage, parking and upgraded facilities, a dog park upgrade at Pine Ridge and citywide ball field assessments. The $624,800 would include a 10% contingency fund.

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