Westbrook’s plan for a Presumpscot River walking loop in the city’s downtown is taking shape. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Westbrook hopes to go out to bid by the fall of 2025 to construct a walk on the north side of the Presumpscot River to complete a two-mile, downtown loop. Westbrook already has a River Walk on the south side of the river.

The city, in a first step, is the recent recipient of a $4 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a Brownfield Cleanup grant for a stretch along the Presumpscot River’s northern bank. It includes two parcels extending from One Riverfront Plaza to the pedestrian bridge over the river near 74 Brown St..

A city press release last week said the cleanup, design and construction of the River Walk overall would cost $6 million to $8 million.

“The remaining funds for the River Walk North project will be sought out in the coming months,” acting Mayor and City Council President David Morse said Tuesday. “With $4 million now secured from the EPA, the city is continuing to seeking out additional grant opportunities.”

Morse said the funding will be a mix of grants and tax increment finance funds dedicated to economic development uses. “Funds for this project will come from sources outside of the municipal budget and not impact the tax rate,” Morse said.

Westbrook acquired the two parcels on the northern river banks from SAPPI North America in collaboration with the state and federal agencies.


“The city of Westbrook is excited to see this project recognized as a priority by the U.S. EPA, transforming these key parcels from brownfield into a vibrant community asset is a significant step forward,” Morse said in a press release.

Kevin Gallagher, a resident of Knight Street on the northerly side of the river, praised the loop plan Tuesday while standing on a portion of the downtown boardwalk. “It’s a  wonderful idea,” Gallagher said. “I’ve lived on this side of the river for three years, and have heard the rumor of a walking path on this side as well as a bridge over the river at the end of High Street. It would all be great.”

The Portland Press Herald said May 20 the sites have had “multiple past uses, including as a sawmill and mill dam, an iron wire manufacturer and lumber manufacturer. The dam and power plant were removed between 2019 and 2021 and the site is currently undeveloped.”

Westbrook will collaborate with the University of Connecticut’s Brownfield Technical Assistance program “to conduct a community outreach initiative, gathering feedback on brownfields cleanup alternatives,” the city’s press release said.

The outreach will begin this summer and the city will solicit bids from qualified environmental professionals for preliminary brownfield assessment work next month.

Meanwhile, work has already commenced in a separate repair project of the 20-year old downtown boardwalk along the river. City officials said last fall that the pressure-treated boarding had deteriorated.


“The construction underway for repairs and accessibility enhancements on the existing boardwalk is being completed by Great Falls Construction,” Morse said Tuesday. Great Falls Construction had the winning bid authorized by the City Council on Jan. 8, 2024, for $623,532.

Morse said the funds came from a combination of grants and tax increment financing funds. “No funds were used from the budget and the spending does not affect the tax rate,” Morse said.



Gallagher Robert Lowell / American Journal


Boardwalk repairs are in progress behind downtown Westbrook businesses. Robert Lowell / American Journal



Comments are not available on this story.