The Lewiston Riverfront Island Master Plan Committee and consultants Goody Clancy released a draft of the plan on Tuesday, outlining an ambitious agenda to make L-A Maine’s premier urban riverfront destination.
Below is an excerpt from the draft, which calls for tapping the power of the river as one of four goals toward revitalizing the historic waterfront. TCT will present other parts of the plan in upcoming editions. See the entire plan at http://www.lewistonmaine.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?aid=193.
Plan Overview. Successful urban centers across the country are shaping their futures guided by a common formula for success: they preserve and reuse and highlight their unique and authentic characteristics, such as historic architecture, waterways, streets and public spaces.
They include a vital and diverse mix of uses, including workplaces, restaurants, entertainment venues, homes and educational, institutional, cultural and recreational uses. They are walkable places with attractive public spaces and amenities.
This master plan for Riverfront Island builds on this same foundation. Through the successful implementation of this master plan, the Lewiston-Auburn community can advance goals that stretch well beyond the boundaries of the district; strengthening the image and identity of both communities; fostering connections between Lewiston and Auburn’s downtowns centered around the Androscoggin River waterfront; enhancing Lisbon Street as a commercial destination; and improving the quality of life for downtown neighborhoods in both communities through access to jobs and amenities.
Vision. Lewiston’s Androscoggin Riverfront will become Maine’s premier urban riverfront destination, the centerpiece of a renewed Lewiston-Auburn region, a showcase of the community’s distinctive past, present and future.
The Riverfront Island master plan will be accomplished through four related goals:
1. Tap the power of the river—through access to the water’s edge, a more active riverfront and stronger connections to downtown neighborhoods.
2. Attract a vital mix of new uses—including new housing, cultural destinations, workplaces, a new Canal Park, and the parking needed to support these new destinations—through reuse of older buildings and construction of new ones.
3. Make the district more walkable—to unlock the potential of Riverfront Island’s many assets
4. Insist on quality in both public and private investment—to attract desired businesses and visitors, and so that the Riverfront grows as a place the L-A community can take pride in.
Tap the power of the river
Today the Androscoggin Riverfront remains an untapped resource for the Lewiston-Auburn community. In an era when communities across the country have reclaimed urban waterfronts as vibrant community destinations, Lewiston and Auburn have the potential to create a unique and special place.
Creating a continuous and attractive public Riverwalk by connecting existing parks, planned destinations and new waterfront development will be the key to success. The Riverwalk will become a much-loved destination and centerpiece of the downtown providing scenic views of the river and falls and allowing access to the water’s edge.
• Establish a continuous public Riverwalk between Island Point and Cedar Street.
• Transform Simard-Payne (Railroad) Park into a true riverfront park that draws the community and the region.
• Activate the riverfront with a new home for Museum L-A. Connect new and existing parks throughout the downtown Riverfront.
• Establish a continuous public Riverwalk between Island Point and Cedar Street.
With three parks along the downtown riverfront, Lewiston has already built a foundation for greater public use and enjoyment of the river. But the parks do not function as a connected system, can be hard to see or reach from surrounding city streets, and views of the river are often blocked by vegetation. Through development of a continuous high-quality Riverwalk, existing parks could be connected and used more effectively, views of river could be opened up, and public access to the water could be greatly enhanced. This new Riverwalk could extend almost three-quarters of a mile along Lewiston’s downtown waterfront.
Through connections to Auburn’s riverside walking paths, several loop walking trails of 1 to 2 miles could be established, showcasing the riverfront and existing and planned destinations in both communities.
While continuity of access is essential, so is the quality and consistency of design elements. Providing high-quality walkways, seating, lighting and signage throughout the waterfront area will contribute directly to the Riverwalk’s appeal and success.
Simard-Payne Park has the potential to be the centerpiece of Lewiston’s public waterfront. The park hosts the Great Falls Balloon Festival, the Dempsey Challenge and other community events and recreational programs, but is missing many of the key elements of a true waterfront destination park: access down to the water’s edge is not in place for people or boats; views of the river are limited by vegetation; the park lacks visibility from surrounding streets; park infrastructure and amenities needed to attract people or host events are not in place; and much land around the park is currently vacant or underutilized.
Planned development of the new Museum L-A at the edge of the park is a very important step forward but additional steps will be needed both to support the museum’s success and to create a public destination:
• Add an amphitheater, steps to the water and small-boat dock where the river meets the Cross Canal. This has the potential to be a signature public destination for waterfront events and activities and might include a removable floating dock for waterfront programs and events. Continue and expand the program of park events/festivals.
• Explore the potential for seasonal canoe/kayak rental within Simard-Payne Park, potentially in conjunction with the proposed Lincoln Street/waterfront hotel.
• Explore the potential of the park to accommodate seasonal food concessions/vendors in small/temporary structures. Selectively trim and manage riverfront vegetation to open up river views.
• Incorporate a bank-fishing location as proposed by the Androscoggin River Greenway initiative.
• Add a destination playground within the park, potentially including a fountain and other water activities, drawing kids from downtown neighborhoods and the wider region.
• Create a new “gateway” entrance to the Simard-Payne Park on Lincoln Street on a publicly owned parcel beside the depot building; extend a path from Lincoln Street across Oxford Street to the existing Park entrance.
• Add a new pedestrian access point to the park via a new bridge over the canal at the intersection of Oxford and Cross Streets.Improve the Oxford Street edge to the park along the Lower Canal.
• Improve park vehicular access and utilities to support expanded programs.
• Foster new development at the park’s edges.
Activate the riverfront with a new home for Museum L-A. Support Museum L-A’s ambitious plans for redevelopment of the recently purchased Camden Yarns Mill, beside Simard-Payne Park:
• Ensure that Museum L-A is able to move forward with development of its new home, which will provide an important anchor for the riverfront.
• Help Museum L-A to activate Simard-Payne Park: Leverage opportunities to tell the story of the riverfront and the history of the L-A community through events, programs and an interpretive signage project already in progress.
• Connect new and existing parks Connected Public Spaces throughout the downtown Riverfront.
• Create a Canal Walk network with new pedestrian and bicycle connections along the canals: Use the canals to link Lincoln Street and Lisbon Street to the river.
• Add a new Canal Park at the intersection of the Upper Canal and the Cross Canal:
• Incorporate a new Canal Park that links Lisbon Street to the riverfront area. The park could include a performance space and potentially a restaurant along the canal. Include a new bike bridge linking the park to downtown and develop a Canal Walk segment linking to Main Street.