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Lewiston approves new 10-year vision for waterfront redevelopment

The sun rises over Downtown Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 17, 2017.
David Goldman
The sun rises over Downtown Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 17, 2017.

City officials have approved a major update to Lewiston's riverfront island master plan, seen as a new 10-year vision for the Androscoggin River waterfront.

The plans call for an extension of a riverwalk to the north and south, including a new pedestrian bridge near the Great Falls with a connection to Auburn.

It also envisions major redevelopment of Island Point, with the construction of new housing, restaurants and an open-air pavilion. And the plan suggests repurposing vacant and under-utilized buildings on Riverfront Island, making upgrades at Simard Payne Park and revitalizing the areas around the city's canals with walking paths and lookout points.

City officials, including councilor Linda Scott, expressed overwhelming support at a meeting Tuesday night.

"This is how we're going to get Lewiston forward," she said. "And I really think that with this, we can start really working with economic development and working with businesses and get people excited to hopefully come in."

Lewiston planning board member Shanna Cox said she believes the plan will likely prompt more private investment as well.

"This could really transform our community," she said. "There's already pressure in our southern Maine markets to move here, and these are the type of amenities that both retires and younger folks are looking for. Those are two populations that I think really bode well for the future of our city."

City officials said Lewiston has already secured some federal funds for riverwalk extension and canal improvements.

Lewiston's first riverfront island master plan was adopted nearly a decade ago. Since then the city has purchased the canals and made a series of park and pedestrian upgrades. Ground is expected to break early next month on new housing at the Continental Mill, city officials said Tuesday.