LEWISTON — The city has money to help plot the future of the downtown riverfront and it's looking for more.
City councilors met with members of the Planning Board on Tuesday to discuss a range of topics, from medical marijuana dispensaries to zoning philosophy.
Three topics focused on the future of Lewiston’s riverfront development: a proposed Riverfront study, the city’s position on the canals and the fate of Bates Mill No. 5.
City Administrator Ed Barrett assured councilors that a formal planning process for the riverfront, from Lisbon Street to the river and from Cedar Street to Island Point, was on the way.
Lewiston has $900,000 from the federal government to help redevelop its riverfront, Barrett said. The city can use 20 percent of that, $180,000, to pay for planning for the area, but the city is applying for a $175,000 Brownfields planning grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We'd prefer to get that, and use all of the $900,000 to do something there," Barrett said. "But we do have the money."
Planning Board members urged councilors and staff to keep them in the loop on the fate of Lewiston's canals and over the development of Bates Mill No. 5. Board Chairwoman Lucy Bisson recommended that the city consider an art district for the riverfront area.
"The fact is, if we want young people to come downtown, there needs to be something for them to do," she said.
Mayor Larry Gilbert agreed.
"We don't just want young professionals to come downtown; we want them to move there," he said. "There needs to be a place for them to recreate. We want everything for them here: live, work, play."
Gil Arsenault, director of planning and code enforcement, said the Historic Preservation Review Board is looking at a plan to declare the Bates Mill Enterprise Complex and the city's canals a historic district. The historic board has scheduled a public hearing on that designation for 3 p.m. Oct. 7.
Lincoln Jeffers, assistant to the city administrator, said he's looking at that proposal carefully to make sure it would not hurt the city's chances of redeveloping the area.
"We've found no requirements this would put on us yet," Jeffers said. "But it could make us eligible for historic district tax credits, and that would help development. We're investigating that very carefully."