Ted Walworth of Lewiston looks at one of the giant concept images of the Riverfront Island Master Plan displayed Thursday night at the Lewiston Public Library. At left is Rob Adams from Halvorson Tighe & Bond, the firm hired to revise the plan. In the middle is Ben Weisner of Auburn, balloonmeister of the Great Falls Balloon Festival, who wanted to see the impact changes would have on the annual festival. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Envision a promenade along Canal Street, with fencing removed and large steps down to the water.

Or how about a redeveloped Island Point, with an open air pavilion for ice skating, restaurants and new housing with views of the falls on the Androscoggin River.

As the city updates its Riverfront Island Master Plan, it’s getting ambitious as it asks for public feedback on how to upgrade the riverwalk trail, Simard-Payne Memorial Park, the canal system and more.

The update, led by consultants Halvorson Tighe & Bond, is also forming recommendations for in-fill development and zoning changes that could usher in more residential units.

During a public forum Thursday, residents were invited to view new concept images that came from an initial public meeting in October.

Misty Parker, Lewiston’s assistant director of Economic & Community Development, talks Thursday with Rob Adams of Halvorson Tighe & Bond about proposals for the Riverfront Island Master Plan at the Lewiston Public Library. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Rob Adams, a landscape architect for Halvorson, said Thursday that while the designs so far are “aspirational,” they are meant to be. He called this phase a “laboratory” that will eventually be prioritized and provide a supplement for the existing riverfront plan.


Much of the plan also looks at bicycle and pedestrian connections between the riverfront areas, removing barriers of access to Simard-Payne park and the canals. It includes a long-planned extension of the riverwalk north to Avon Street and south to Cedar Street.

Island Point, the unused slice of land beyond Veterans Memorial Park, is among the most ambitious for redevelopment ideas. Some of the design elements shown Thursday mirror Thompson’s Point in Portland, with a pavilion and “maker’s market.” It also includes ideas for a rock climbing wall and terraced seating.

Adams said the ultimate goal is to provide better connections to this area as well, establishing a traffic light and crossing at Main and Mill streets.

Local developer Tom Platz, left, talks Thursday evening with David Hediger, Lewiston’s director of the Planning Code Enforcement Department, at the Lewiston Public Library. The city sponsored the forum to get feedback on the Riverfront Island Master Plan, which focuses on development along the Androscoggin River. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Other concepts shown Thursday included a public “arcade” at a section of Bates Mill No. 5, which would provide a connection to the Ash Street corridor.

David Hediger, director of Planning and Code Enforcement, said while the plan is meant as a long-term document, the end product will likely feature projects that can be completed in the first 12 to 18 months of implementation.

During the presentation, Adams said that will include a pilot project for canal improvements on the lower canal between Oxford Street and Simard-Payne park.


The city hired Halvorson Tighe & Bond, a Boston-based engineering firm, in the summer of 2022 to help lead its effort to update the Riverfront Island Master Plan, a document that was originally created in 2012 to guide long-term redevelopment efforts.

City officials are hoping the updated plan can add momentum to redevelopment efforts already underway.

Katie Collins, who recently moved to Lewiston, writes a suggestion on a sticky note Thursday night to put on one of several giant artist concepts for the Riverfront Island Master Plan during a forum at the Lewiston Public Library. “I’m really interested in the potential there is here in Lewiston,” she said, as she pinned her suggestion for an indoor climbing wall on one of the concept images. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The city was recently awarded $979,000 in federal funding toward the riverwalk extension and canal system improvement projects. Officials have said the new section of trail would likely help with the redevelopment of the 650,000-square-foot Continental Mill and improve connections for downtown residents.

Construction of 72 housing units at the Continental Mill by developers the Szanton Co. is expected to begin early this year. The remainder of the mill complex, owned by Chinburg Properties, is also the subject of redevelopment efforts, but so far nothing has been proposed.

Earlier this summer, the city also approved the installation of an outdoor fitness court at Simard-Payne park, part of a grant program promoting health and wellness.

In October, more than 40 people attended an initial session, where they were asked their preferences on five topics related to the redevelopment of the riverfront area. The results — reflected in Thursday’s concept designs — showed residents are looking for a variety of features to create easier access from downtown to recreational areas on the riverfront, as well as making the area more attractive and inviting.


The majority of respondents said they’d like the riverwalk to be “meandering and park-like,” and feature art, lighting and scenic overlooks. Residents said in-fill development in the area should include “mid-rise mixed use,” and “townhouses.” People also said they’d like to see small grocers, a deli or coffee shop in the area. Concerns included housing affordability, making sure any development would be usable by a “variety of income levels.”

Adams said Thursday that residential uses were found to have among the highest development potential in a market analysis of the area.

For Simard-Payne park, residents said they’d like to see an event canopy and splash pad. Under the canal revitalization section, people preferred a Canal Street reconfiguration that included parking, a single travel lane and promenade along the canal. Asked about amenities, the most popular options were art and lighting, ice skating, steps to the water and a kayak launch. One comment said that as of now, “overgrown vegetation obscures views of the canal.”

One of several giant concept plans is displayed Thursday at a forum on the Riverfront Island Master Plan at the Lewiston Public Library. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The City Council and Planning Board are scheduled to hold a joint workshop Feb. 28 where they will look at final recommendations.

Prior to Thursday’s presentation, Mayor Carl Sheline said, “Vibrant cities don’t happen without thoughtful, comprehensive plans and I am hopeful that as this plan for our riverfront comes together, it will be a blueprint for success and an economic driver for our city.”

To find updates, surveys and results, go to the project’s website at: www.lewiston-riverfront.com.

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