A concept image in the city’s updated Riverfront Island Master Plan shows what a community pavilion could look like at Simard-Payne Memorial Park on Beech Street. City of Lewiston

LEWISTON — City officials agreed to prioritize extending the riverwalk northward and making upgrades in the area of Simard-Payne Memorial Park, including a proposed pavilion, during planning talks this week.

During a joint City Council and Planning Board workshop on the city’s updated Riverfront Island Master Plan, officials were asked to prioritize projects. The plan lays out goals for amenities and redevelopment in the area surrounding the Ash Street corridor, the canal system and the Androscoggin River.

According to Craig Thibeault, a member of the city’s planning staff, there was a three-way tie among the top areas of interest: extending the riverwalk from Simard-Payne park north to Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street, upgrading the Ash Street corridor, and developing a community pavilion at Simard-Payne park.

Thibeault said the responses from officials showed a general consensus of focusing on the area surrounding Simard-Payne park, which also includes improving river views and rehabilitating the “Red Shop” building, which once regulated the flow of water in the canal and served as a machine shop for the Bates Mill complex.

He said staff will create a more formal response to the prioritization later, but the eventual timeline for the projects will also depend on funding.

Last year, the city received $979,000 in federal funds secured by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins toward the riverwalk extension. According to a city memo, the design and permitting for the extension has been funded, while construction funds are still to be determined.


Mayor Carl Sheline said he was among those supporting improvements to Simard-Payne park. He said a pavilion could be a gathering center for events or concerts.

This year’s update to the Riverfront Island Master Plan said creating a multiuse pavilion “will cement the Simard-Payne park role as a civic destination, enhance the park’s presence, and allow various programming and activities.”

Sheline said the park is already utilized but there is “tons of room for improvement.”

“Our riverfront is a gem for Lewiston,” Sheline said Thursday. “I’m excited about these upcoming improvements which will generate economic activity and provide world-class recreation for city.”

Planning Board member Shanna Cox said Tuesday that as the city invests in the park, it should be thinking about traffic flow and signs. She said people don’t drive past the park now so its visibility is limited, and the city should be “designing for a future that includes the kind of activity like concerts.”

Officials also discussed staff recommendations for encouraging infill development in the area, which officials hope can drive new housing.


The recommendations from staff include requiring commercial uses on the first floor of mixed-use buildings to ensure “commercial shop fronts in the downtown,” and increasing the allowable unit density on in-town lots to promote the rehabilitation of abandoned apartment buildings.

Officials were in general consensus about both, but some said too many development requirements may limit new projects.

Some councilors questioned whether the city could require that new housing in the area be market rate versus subsidized, but staff said it would likely violate the Fair Housing Act.

Councilor Bob McCarthy said the city should use financial incentives to help guide what Lewiston would like to see for housing.

Planning Board member Amy Smith said when multifamily developments are discussed, owner-occupied condominiums are often left out. The riverfront “could be a prime location for that type of housing” that Lewiston does not have much of, she said.

Regarding the requirement that new development feature commercial space on the first floor, Planning Board member Josh Nagine said, “We need the commercial businesses to be able to demand commercial space.”

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