LISBON — Lisbon Town Councilors will hire a consultant to study the cost of raising the elevation at the former Worumbu Mill site to mitigate flooding.

The move is part of the town’s work to redevelop the former textile mill property at the corner of Route 196 and Canal Street.

The town bought the nearly 4-acre plot at 1 Canal St. for $30,000 in 2019. The 96-year-old vacant mill that stood on the property was torn down in 2016.

While the adjacent Androscoggin River is one of the property’s best features, the river also presents one of the greatest challenges. According to a memo from Brett Richardson, Lisbon’s economic and community development director, much of the parcel best suited for development lies along the adjacent railroad tracks separating the parcel from the Maine Department of Transportation’s park and ride lot.

Richardson said much of that land is considered at risk of flooding because of its proximity to the river.

Little River Land Surveying will determine how much it will cost to raise the elevation of the land to prevent flooding. The study, which is expected to cost around $2,000, will be paid for with money set aside for downtown development.

Raising the elevation is important because it would eliminate the need for flood insurance and other design features that would add costs to a project for a developer, Richardson said.

Even if the town can’t afford to raise the elevation, Councilor Fern Larochelle said it’s valuable information for potential developers.

“We’re not talking about a significant amount of money to actually increase a pretty significant value in marketing this property,” council Chair Allen Ward said.

Richardson said a recent survey of at least 418 people shows there’s a consensus emerging around how to redevelop the property. Richardson said 78% of the respondents are interested in seeing a mix of retail, office space and housing on the property as well as dining options between the Main Street village and the river.

It’s also a high priority for 65% of survey-takers to include river views and park-type areas on the site as well as ample parking, according to Richardson.

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