At the annual Harvest at the Square Festival, Gregory W. Powell, Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, and Colby President David A. Greene announced that the two organizations will be establishing a $20 million fund for the revitalization of Downtown Waterville.
The Harold Alfond Foundation was established in 1950 and invests in projects in Maine. The Foundation has a long tradition in Waterville, having established the Alfond Youth Center, provided grants to Thomas College and various other organizations such as Waterville Creates!, and Colby.
In the Harold Alfond Foundation 2015 Grant Report, the Foundation outlined its desire to continue supporting the College’s investments in downtown Waterville: “We are funding Colby on its community revitalization efforts taking place off the campus. The Foundation shares Colby’s interest in helping to revitalize Waterville’s downtown, and our efforts toward this end are multi-faceted…”
According to the same letter, the Foundation has supported Colby in the hiring of downtown redevelopment experts and the acquisition of properties on Main Street. The letter continued, “we hope to inject new energy and economic activity into Waterville, creating positive ripple effects for all.” The report continued, alluding to the recent announcement, “There is much work to be done, but we expect 2016 to be a very busy year on Main Street as well as on Mayflower Hill.” Clark when asked about the grant, commented that the College and the Harold Alfond Foundation had been working together on the grant for over a year.
In an email to the student body, Greene commented: “This grant builds upon this tradition, allowing Colby to make significant investments that are already catalyzing private development and attracting new businesses to Waterville.”
The fund will be utilized to support ongoing and future capital projects according to Vice President of Planning Brian Clark. The fund will be controlled by Colby and will be subject to oversight by the Board of Trustees. “In two years, it’s going to be a different street,” said Clark.
Former Senator Bill Mitchell, a Waterville native, expressed in a speech following the announcement that the revitalization efforts by Colby and the Alfond Foundation how necessary these changes to downtown are.
He noticed that many Waterville residents are nostalgic, or even upset that the city is changing so quickly, but particularly mentioned that the young people and young businesses of Waterville will drive the city, and that “the past is the past.”
Regarding David A. Greene, Mitchell had a number of compliments towards him and his work towards downtown. He said, “One person can make a difference, and nobody exemplifies that more than David Greene.”
Clark was optimistic about the future of the Waterville Colby relationship, saying, “We are committed to the long hall…our vision is a vibrant Waterville.”