The Continental Mill beside the Androscoggin River in Lewiston, shown in 2019, is the focus of redevelopment efforts. The city has hired a consultant to update a plan to redevelop the riverfront area, including the canal system, the riverfront trail, and Simard-Payne and Veterans Memorial parks. Sun Journal file photo

LEWISTON — The city has hired a consultant in an effort to update its Riverfront Island Master Plan, the long-term effort to redevelop the riverfront area surrounding Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

City officials initially announced the effort in December, stating it was looking for a creative update for the aging plan. On Friday, they announced that it had selected Halvorson Tighe & Bond, a Boston-based engineering firm, to lead the update.

The company recently completed downtown riverfront planning for Nashua, New Hampshire, among other projects.

According to a city news release, the planning effort encompasses the larger riverfront area, including the canal system, the riverfront trail, and Simard-Payne and Veterans Memorial parks. It states the plan will be “a guiding document for municipal expenditures to improve pedestrian connectivity and to improve engagement through upgrades to public spaces.”

The new master plan will focus on connections between the riverwalk and the downtown, the redevelopment of island point, a market study on infill development opportunities, and the revitalization of Simard-Payne Memorial Park and the canal system.

City Planner Shelley Norton said the update “will allow the city and private development to make improvements that will link together and provide a cohesive design despite implementation happening likely over a period of years.”


She said the updated plan will create a draft of alternative uses and physical improvements to the canals, “including landscaping, trails, lighting, fencing, access and other treatments that will elevate the canals to a major asset to Lewiston.”

It will also feature a “strategically selected area of the canals that will serve as a pilot, demonstration project and template for future improvements” like “year-round seasonal uses” and “active recreation.”

In July, the city received news that a federal spending package was slated to include $979,000 toward the riverwalk extension and canal system improvement projects. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who announced the news, said the riverwalk extension would “link the New Auburn Village Center and Lewiston’s Little Canada neighborhood,” as recommended in Lewiston’s 2012 Riverfront Island Master Plan.

When the funding was announced, Mayor Carl Sheline said the investment in the riverwalk “is critical to making our riverfront a more appealing place to visit and spend time.”

The Great Falls Balloon Festival is held annually at the park, but officials are hoping to attract new investment that can drive more daily activity in the surrounding area.

Earlier this summer, the city also approved the installation of an outdoor fitness court at the park, part of a grant program promoting health and wellness. Several officials questioned the location due to what they argued is low foot traffic at the park and proximity to residential neighborhoods.


The city is hoping that the combination of the riverwalk extension and current redevelopment efforts at Continental Mill are just the beginning, and that the updated riverfront plan will further drive momentum.

“The riverfront island is an asset to the city, and we need to find ways to develop it,” Sheline said Friday from the Balloon Festival, which began Friday and will end Sunday.

He said public engagement in the planning is “critical.” According to the news release, the city has launched a website for the project, which includes a survey and mapping tool for public input. A schedule on the website says the first public meeting will be Oct. 3.

It is anticipated that the master plan update will be completed in late winter or spring of 2023.

The planning website can be viewed at Paper surveys are available at the City Clerk’s office and the Lewiston Public Library.

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