LEWISTON — Plans to improve river access at Simard/Payne Memorial Park would cost the city an additional $30,000.

City Planner David Hediger said it would be the third phase of improvements to the area that are part of the River Front Island Master plan projects.

Work widening the access bridge between the park and Oxford Street should be completed this week and improvements to the gateway park extending out from the park toward Lincoln Street should be finished by July.

“We are scheduled to start this spring,” he said. “One of the aspects of the master plan was to try to get people into the park and make its presence better known. It would improve the connection between the Lewiston House of Pizza and the Grand Trunk depot, with streetscape improvements. You basically will have this large entrance into the park.”

The gateway park would be the first project spelled out in the city’s River Front Island Master Plan, which was written last year. The city received a $900,000 federal grant to improve the area and the first $180,000 paid for the study. According to federal rules, the remaining money can’t be used for engineering work.

The remaining money is paying for the first phase of improvements — widening the bridge over the canal between Oxford Street and the park, moving a Central Maine Power utility pole and making a series of design improvements to create the gateway park.


Original plans for the first phase called for a more expensive design, with specially treated granite walls and decorative LED lights. Councilors did away with those elements in November, approving a more modest design.

The project now also uses shallower layers of concrete in places and replaces wood decking material in a sitting area with paving stones. It has fewer trees and bushes and replaces special streetlights with standard streetlights used elsewhere in the city.

Hediger said the city has about $101,000 remaining to build them. Current estimates say the river access improvements will cost about $130,000.

“So we are about $30,000 to $40,000 shy of being able to do these improvements now,” Hediger said.

Councilors will consider paying for those improvements during their budget discussions this spring.

“It’s not necessarily going to be a boat launch but a place to carry in a canoe or a kayak,” Hediger said. “Along with that, some overlooks have been identified for work, too.”

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