Lewiston lawmaker seeks bonds for downtown redevelopment and passenger rail

City of Lewiston document

Screen shot of map in Lewiston's Riverfront Island Master Plan. To see a full copy of the plan click here.

AUGUSTA — A pair of bills introduced Tuesday by state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, would bring as much as $38 million in state bonding to the Twin Cities.

One measure asks for $18 million in state-backed bonds to upgrade the rails from Yarmouth to Auburn in the hope of bringing passenger train service to the Twin Cities, Craven said.

The other asks for $20 million to redevelop Lewiston's Riverfront Island area. The city has already created a plan for redevelopment, which includes the area between Lincoln Street and the Androscoggin River from the Longley Bridge to Lown Peace Bridge connecting Little Canada to New Auburn.

The city hired Goody Clancy in 2012 to help draft a development plan. The consultants took a walking tour of the area last September, capping months spent poring over previous studies of the downtown.

After their walking tour in September, they spent several days meeting with residents, business owners and volunteers. They created a website: www.riverfrontislandmasterplan.com.

Craven said the bond money, if approved, would be used to demolish unsafe buildings, to clear river frontage and to upgrade the local public parks to improve safety.

Full implementation of the plan would cost more than $20 million, but Craven said the money would be a good start. "We have to start somewhere." Craven said the bond money would not be used for demolition of Bates Mill No. 5, which is included in the redevelopment area.

"In my opinion, it's an economic development and a downtown bond, and I'm very anxious, and I feel very confident it might pass because it is going to beautify Lewiston-Auburn," Craven said.

Her bill seeking money for passenger rail would be targeted at upgrading rail lines from Yarmouth to Auburn. Upgrades would improve the track speed and capacity, allowing  passenger rail and increased freight traffic.

She said she hopes it would be the first step to rebuilding a rail link between Maine and Montreal via Auburn and Bethel.

"The intent is for the money to be used to strengthen the rails, so that eventually we would be able to have passenger rail there," she said.

Craven said she has another bill being prepared that would help bring the passenger rail from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn. She said reconnecting Maine to Canada with passenger rail would help with economic development.

The bill is partially in response to passenger rail being extended to Brunswick in recent years while the state's second-largest population center — Lewiston-Auburn — was excluded.

"I'm very resentful that didn't come to the state's second most populated area," Craven said.

Both measures must be approved by the full Legislature and by voters.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

RiverfrontIslandMP Draft Report 120402 LO

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Cathy Russell's picture

Riverfront Island

As I read the pages of the plan for the riverfront in Lewsiton, I think the improved housing is great and bringing rails to Lewiston is a definite added plus. Once our guests get here, then what do they have to do? Okay boating is a good pre-thought and even better to hire folks who do this kind of stuff to provide "tours" from their boats on the river. How about fishing? What if our visitors do not like shopping? What's in it for the kids? I was raised in Lewiston and lived a great portion of my life there and as a Mom of two, I have to ask, "Why hasn't anyone done something really exciting for the kids to do in town?" How about a recreational park inside? Skate park? Amusement park? Do you realize how much money the town would make with just those two things?
Housing. I think if housing is going to be successful, our Somalian population would need to improve their store fronts and provide a more American retail experience and still offer their products. Just a few ideas as a former resident of Lewiston.

Cathy Russell's picture

Riverfront Island

As I read the pages of the plan for the riverfront in Lewsiton, I think the improved housing is great and bringing rails to Lewiston is a definite added plus. Once our guests get here, then what do they have to do? Okay boating is a good pre-thought and even better to hire folks who do this kind of stuff to provide "tours" from their boats on the river. How about fishing? What if our visitors do not like shopping? What's in it for the kids? I was raised in Lewiston and lived a great portion of my life there and as a Mom of two, I have to ask, "Why hasn't anyone done something really exciting for the kids to do in town?" How about a recreational park inside? Skate park? Amusement park? Do you realize how much money the town would make with just those two things?
Housing. I think if housing is going to be successful, our Somalian population would need to improve their store fronts and provide a more American retail experience and still offer their products. Just a few ideas as a former resident of Lewiston.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The lottery

There's an old joke about someone praying to God asking to win the lottery and God telling him that he will have to buy a ticket. You do not get jobs in your community by standing around and crying poverty. You have to invest in economic development. The railroad investment seems especially appropriate since it would coincide with the port enhancements in Portland which should bring more import/export business to Auburn. As for the waterfront developments, we have already seen jobs that came from the developments that have been done there already. It would seem logical that more development would bring more jobs. You cannot have development in a downtown area unless you increase foot traffic. That does not happen automatically.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Yes, by all means, spend $20

Yes, by all means, spend $20 million we don't have redeveloping Riverfront Island so we can open up 8 more greasy pizza joints and 5 more places to buy an Italian sandwich. With all the problems Lewiston, specifically, and Maine, in general, have and we want to borrow $20 million bucks to do what?

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

spend, spend, spend

Spend, spend, spend it's off to spend more taxpayers monies they dont have so we can reap the kick backs that keep their wallets fat. spend the money to create jobs you fools stop spending money we dont have to make downtown ritzy ditzy, and stop sending all our hard earned cash in space, and all the artzy fartzy stuff is grand so long as you have an abundance of cash, guess what we are in a recession.
Stop spending money on stuff. You need to spend money on running the state serving the people, not ways to cut elderly folks who during thier entire life have SUPPORTED you with thier taxes, or head start which benefits our children greatly, NO get your pirorities straight for a change. CREATE JOBS then you can have your stuff and the people will be happy and the economy will get better.

Jason Theriault's picture

You know what's just as good as jobs?

Making commuting easier to a place with jobs. If people can easily get to Portland, that opens up a much richer and frankly more lucrative market to LA residents. And people working in Portland could look to LA for housing, which is MUCH cheaper here.

That sounds like a plan to me.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .ßarry Bonds

Scott 09:11 am ish • hst ?
ref : Barry Bonds . Baseball players aren't on steroids n e more
They are just f a t :)
Bonds are good idea ? War Bonds , during the big one , WW II , worked and one of the Andrews sisters just passed away last year .
The $US20 question is , " Who will buy them ? "
2 ) What is Loystone's credit rating ?
A; _______________________________________ ?
Enquiring minds wanna' know • And we'll tell :)
http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/blog/2011/08/how-does-alabamas-cre... /s Dr. Steve Dosh • 

Jason Theriault's picture

You and me both

"I'm very resentful that didn't come to the state's second most populated area," Craven said.

I agree. The excuse was that Brunswick was easier to connect, but LA has always seemed to get f-ed over by our coastal neighbors.

 's picture

That was the case with

That was the case with Brunswick, they said that the tracks to Yarmouth were needed anyways and that L/A was the next route. Now they have said that any other projects are put on hold. Yet another blow to L/A and isn't the first time the state or other quasi government group has stuck it to us.

In regards to the 20 million dollar bond to help the Riverfront Island, I whole heartedly agree with trying to get a bond. How many projects in Portland, Biddeford, South Portland, etc... have been funded with tens of millions of money from State bonds? A lot, it is about time that, that type of funding is brought into L/A to boost development.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...