LEWISTON — City officials don’t expect a riverside amphitheater at Simard-Payne Memorial Park will be a draw for big acts when it debuts next summer.

“We’re looking for a venue that have seating for between 300 and 1,500 people, realizing that it won’t be used most of the time,” City Planner David Hediger said. “We know it won’t be a venue that will be used all the time. We’re not looking for anything like Bangor has, just a simple venue for local performances.”

Hediger said plans for a performance space in the city’s Simard-Payne Memorial Park are about halfway complete and could be presented to the Planning Board in October.

Crews were also busy earlier this summer, clearing away trees and underbrush at the park’s northwestern edge along the Androscoggin River, opening views of the water, the Great Falls and Auburn’s Festival Plaza.

Hediger said plans call for better walk-in river access there for swimming and boating.

It’s a vision spelled out in the 2012 Riverfront Island Master plan adopted by the city last year, which recommended changes to the park to make it a bigger community asset.


City crews have already redesigned the park’s southeast entrance, widening the pedestrian bridge across the canal and extending the park out across Cedar Street to the edge of Lincoln Street.

The next phase includes improving access to the Androscoggin River, and the city has set aside $250,000 in the capital plan to do that work. Hediger said the plan is to build an amphitheater and make river access improvements at the same time.

“We only have so much money, and we want to make sure it’s well done, but that it stays manageable from a cost perspective,” Hediger said.

Hediger said the idea is to provide some sort of harder surface at the river’s edge with the understanding that the waterline would rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the river.

The amphitheater would be built above that, using the park’s natural terrain to create a seating around the stage.

“The idea is to keep a loamed and seeded embankment around it,” Hediger said. “We are sensitive to the upkeep and maintenance costs, so we want something that Public Works does not have to spend a lot of additional time to go out and maintain. At the same time, it should have some kind of tiered contour to it so you can have seating. It may have a few areas where there are benches, but it will largely be a bring-a-blanket, bring-a-folding-chair kind of venue.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: