GARDINER – Early last summer, the city began constructing the second phase of Waterfront Park. There’s still some work to be done, but people should be able to enjoy what it has to offer this winter.

Jason Simcock, the city’s director of planning and development, said new features include increased parking, lighting throughout the park, security cameras and free Wi-Fi access for park visitors.

Simcock said skaters will soon be able to use an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot ice skating rink at the center of the park.

“The Gardiner Fire Department has offered to help flood the area and form the ice when the ground is ready,” Simcock said last week. “The city will learn as things go, during the waterfront skating area’s first season, but it should be a fun place for outdoor ice skating for everyone.”

He said once the winter ends and the snow has melted, visitors will also be able to use the expanded timber boardwalk along the Kennebec River.

As part of the $1 million project, the city added 269 feet of boardwalk over the original boat-launch steel bulkhead area last summer. The boardwalk is now about 800 feet long and includes a railing.

He said the park also has a new concrete stairway, a round granite wall near the boat launch where people can sit, a split-rail fence near the kayak and canoe launch area, new sidewalks, and a trail entrance.

In the spring, he said signs will be installed at the entrances to the park, along with a regional kiosk sign at the new overlook area next to Bailey’s Garage. These are joint ventures with the city of Augusta, he said.

Simcock said the city raised more than $1.7 million in grant funding for Phase I and II of the project. Funding partners include the Maine Department of Economic Development, the Gardiner Rotary Club, Maine Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In addition to public funding, Simcock said the city has had significant support from Savings Bank of Maine. The bank’s $1 million contribution has been applied to enhance sections of the park including the Maine Avenue/Depot Square gateway, the Floodtide Terrace and Water Street gateway entrance, he said.

“This winter the city will go back to the drawing board for more grant funding to take on Phase III of the waterfront,” he said. “This will include installation of public restrooms, an amphitheater, and improvements to the overlook area on Water Street. There is also a growing list of ideas on how the new park will be used by the community. Ideas include expanding the boat slips and hosting more events like outdoor movies.”


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