Earlier this year Waterville Creates! was awarded a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town program to undertake, in partnership with the City of Waterville, Colby College, and other partners, a community re-design process for Downtown Waterville’s central greenspace, Castonguay Square.
Community members are invited to participate in these public design workshops scheduled for Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at The Center, 93 Main Street and Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at the Chase Community Forum in the Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons – the meetings are scheduled to begin at 5:30pm. Refreshments will be provided. All are welcome to attend, there is no charge to participate. This series of community design workshops are designed to understand how the park is currently being utilized and determine the community’s collective vision for its future.
Community Charrette #1: What is the Square today and what could it be?
October 17, 5:30-7:00 p.m. The Center, 93 Main Street, 1st Floor
Charrette #1 will be the first of three interactive public charrettes about the function, design, and programming of Castonguay Square. The charrette will start with a brief update on downtown development efforts by the City, Colby, and WC! to contextualize the Square within the ongoing downtown and riverfront improvements. This session will focus on how the community experiences the Square today, what its strengths and shortcomings are, and how its current physical design supports or inhibits its potential. The BBB team will prepare for this session by documenting the Square’s current condition and providing interactive tools to allow participants to draw and mark their impressions directly on plans and maps.
We will also look outside of Waterville for inspiration, giving participants a forum to dream and imagine programming and design concepts that could occur in the Square unbound by existing constraints. The goal will be to develop a menu of possibilities and priorities for the role of this central open space in Waterville’s cultural and civic life. Active and passive programming will be considered, as well as landscape and open space design ideas. The BBB team will prepare for this session with a presentation of inspirational urban open spaces drawn from around the world to generate ideas.
Castonguay Square is a lovely greenspace located in the heart of our historic downtown district, but its current design is not particularly inviting. In this time of unprecedented investment in the downtown, this project will give the community an exciting opportunity to help create a dynamic, welcoming space right in the center of it all. The process will also build community capacity for future projects and help to restore a sense of pride and civic engagement.
The project kicked off in September 2018 with a site visit by architects from Beyer Blinder Belle of New York and Mitchell & Associates of Portland. After a walking tour of Castonguay Square and the RiverWalk, the architects met with stakeholder groups that included downtown business and property owners, City employees, and representatives from organizations that currently use the Square for events and activities. For the next phase of the project, Waterville Creates!, in partnership with the city and Colby College, will host a series of community design workshops that are open to the public and designed to understand how the park is currently being utilized and determine the community’s collective vision for its future.
After the first two workshops, the architects will begin developing preliminary design concepts which they will present to the communityfor feedback at a final workshop in January 2019. The goal will be to have a final concept for presentation to City Council in February 2019.
In the creative placemaking process, public, private, not-for-profit, and community sectors partner to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired. Key elements of this process are inclusivity, intention, and relationship building with all community stakeholders.
The NEA announced 60 awards totaling $4.1 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program. “The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Waterville Creates! in Waterville, Maine, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.” Waterville Creates!’s $75,000 award was the largest non-governmental Our Town grant awarded in the state of Maine.
Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle