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Updated: August 21, 2023 To the Editor

A defense of Waterville’s urban renewal on the 1960s

Regarding the article published in Mainebiz from the print edition of June 12, “With Projects Underway, Waterville’s Downtown is Taking on New Life”, we want to correct the statement that “Waterville was a victim of urban renewal in the 1960s.”

In the 1960s, the Federal Government, through HUD, awarded funding to communities across America. Waterville’s leadership, at that time, saw the opportunity to rebuild its downtown and infrastructure, and formed The Waterville Urban Renewal Authority.

Your article refers to historic buildings being torn down during urban renewal. The Charles Street project razed old, dilapidated buildings in what is now the Concourse — an 800 car parking lot in the center of downtown. The Concourse is one of the elements that saved downtown Waterville.

Head of Falls was also redeveloped through urban renewal. HOF was a polluted mill site surrounded by old houses along the river. Had it not been for urban renewal, downtown Waterville might still have the old vacant Wyandotte Mill and old, rundown houses sitting there.

Urban Renewal redirected storm drainage from the local sewerage treatment plant saving taxpayers enormous amounts of money. It also redirected raw sewerage that was being dumped directly into the Kennebec River into the sewerage system to be processed correctly.

Traffic was converted to one-way in the 1950s, long before urban renewal began. Waterville did not fall victim to urban renewal. Instead, it was revived by the foresight of the leadership of Waterville in the 1960s to create The Waterville Urban Renewal Authority and revitalize downtown Waterville at that time. It’s time we give them the credit they deserve.

Bill Mitchell, Waterville business owner

Leonard Dow, former assistant director, Waterville Urban Renewal Authority

Mike Roy, former city manager

John Nale, attorney, city of Waterville

Thomas J. Nale Sr., former mayor, city of Waterville

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August 24, 2023

This is a sad and unfortunate "rebuttal" to a policy long seen as creating issues for many small downtowns across the country and our state, not to mention tearing down historic buildings. It seems that Waterville's current leadership has the future in mind, rather than lauding past policies that did far more harm than good. And just as an aside, have you ever seen that 800 car parking "crater" in the downtown actually full? No.

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