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February 6, 2018

Kennebec Savings Bank boosts Waterville Riverwalk project

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
Waterville's Two-Cent pedestrian bridge is at the southern end of the site where the city's Riverwalk will be built.

Waterville's Riverwalk project is halfway toward its $1.5 million fundraising goal after Kennebec Savings Bank pledged $150,000 to it Monday.

The project, at the 14-acre lot that once was home to the former Wyandotte Mill along the Kennebec River, is expected to drive economic development at the site and in downtown Waterville. It will include an amphitheater, boardwalk and other amenities.

"The park project will help to revitalize Waterville's historic riverfront bringing economic energy and public access to the waterfront area," said a news release from the bank. The donation will give the bank naming rights to the amphitheater, which is scheduled to be built later this year.

"Kennebec Savings Bank is proud to place its name on this outstanding project that will add much needed green space to downtown Waterville for families to enjoy," said bank President and CEO Andrew Silsby, who joined Waterville City Manager Mike Roy in announcing the donation. "We are confident that this beautiful park will become the home for many public festivals and outdoor celebrations for years to come."

The Riverwalk at Head of Falls, which is just upstream from Ticonic Falls, is described by the news release as "one of the city's most important historic areas underutilized for the last 45 years." The site isn't totally vacant -- the city installed a small park a few years ago at the south end, leading to the picturesque Two-Cent Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the Kennebec River that connects downtown Waterville to Winslow.

Roy said development inspired by the Riverwalk project will enhance the economic vitality of the city while preserving public access to the waterfront.

"Kennebec Savings Bank's investment into our community will be appreciated for generations to come. And we hope the bank's generosity inspires others to join in our effort to revitalize our waterfront. It's an exciting time for the Waterville community," said Roy.

In 2005, Waterville invested $1 million in water, sewer and electric, to attract developers to the site, but that didn't draw any takers. Plans for the Riverwalk were unveiled two years ago. Other donors include the Waterville Rotary Club, which to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, in 2015 pledged $150,000; the National Park Service Land and Water Conservation fund pledged $300,000, and there are smaller grants from Colby College, Messalonskee Trails and Inland Hospital.

Construction is expected to begin in April and Roy said last month it should be completed in September

Roy said the Kennebec River has become an asset to the city and the city should capitalize on it. "In the '60s and early '70s, the river wasn't a pleasant place to visit. It was certainly not seen as major attraction. Now some cities would kill to have a site like this," he told Mainebiz in January.

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