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March 8, 2024

A Somerset County town OKs development plan for Kennebec riverfront

grass and trees Courtesy / Central Maine Growth Council A development plan for Fairfield’s Mill Island Park looks to attract tourists, residents and local visitors.

Fairfield Town Council has approved a plan to develop a 5.5-acre park east of the downtown area, with a goal of attracting tourists, residents and local visitors.

The 80-page Mill Island Park Development Plan provides strategies for future development within the park and along its eastern and western waterfronts on the Kennebec River.

“We are excited about the positive impact this plan will have on Fairfield's waterfront, and we look forward to seeing the vision come to life,” said Stephanie Thibodeau, chair of Fairfield’s economic and community development committee and a member of the council.

aerial view of woods and water
Courtesy / CMGC
Mill Island Park

The town began looking for feedback on the proposed redevelopment of areas in early 2023.

Fairfield, a Somerset County town of 6,500 northwest of Waterville, was specifically interested in the redevelopment of Mill Island Park.

The park has remnants of the old United Boxboard and Paper Co., on the northern end of Mill Island on the Kennebec River. Mill Island Park is owned and maintained by the town of Fairfield.

“Mill Island Park's unique geography, combined with its rich history as a manufacturing and industrial site, highlights the town of Fairfield’s recreational, historical and educational assets, in addition to its expansive waterfront,” Michelle Flewelling, Fairfield’s town manager, said at the time. 

Now with the plan in hand, the town may implement strategies such as expanding a regional hub-and-spoke trail system, enhancing downtown connection opportunities, preserving historical infrastructure, addressing parking and traffic concerns and incorporating sustainable maintenance practices along the waterfronts.

The plan took shape after a multi-year planning process facilitated by the committee. The process focused on Mill Island Park's recreational, historical and educational needs while emphasizing preservation and restoration. 

The plan also aligns with the town’s broader goal of fostering growth in Fairfield's downtown corridor, said Garvan Donegan, Central Maine Growth Council’s director of planning, innovation and economic development.

The goal, he added, is “a more vibrant and economically thriving Fairfield.”

Said Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling: “This collaborative effort stands as a testament to the strength of our community spirit and the shared vision we have for a downtown corridor that is both revitalized and thriving."

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