Last Tuesday, April 4, the Waterville City Council took part in the first of two official votes over the terms and conditions for the controversial proposed leasing of 42 parking spaces to Colby College. Located on Front Street, the parking spaces are to be used for the boutique hotel Colby plans to construct at the south end of Main Street as part of its revitalization efforts downtown. The lease would impact business owners and employees as well as the general public who use the parking lot, and would be forced to park their cars in perhaps less convenient locations, such as nearby lots at Head of Falls or The Concourse.
According to the proposal, Colby would acquire 30 parking spaces on the west side of the lot, formerly the location of Levine’s clothing store, each priced at $28 per month for usage by hotel and increasing to $50 per space per month after 20 years. Employees of the planned hotel and its associated restaurant are prohibited from parking in the lot, according to the lease. An additional 12 spaces in the southeast section of the lot have also been granted to the hotel for the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., allotting the remaining workday hours for public use. The other 18 parking spaces in the lot are to stay free for public use.
Initially, the proposal was for the 42 spaces to be leased at $1 per year for a total of 99 years, similar to the lease which was proposed and approved for the development by the city of the Hathaway Creative Center bordering Winslow. However, Waterville City Councilors did not agree to the terms of the lease when it was brought to vote on March 24, with three councilors voting to postpone the proposal and the remaining three councilors choosing to abstain.
In an interview with the Morning Sentinal, City Manager Michael Roy ’74 commented on the agreement made between Colby College and the city following the initial postponement saying, “I’m very happy that the city was able to negotiate the terms and that Colby was willing to realize the impact of lost parking and that there’s a value to that parking.”
The lease alone is estimated to yield a benefit of $10,000 per year for Waterville. The terms and conditions also make the College responsible for all lot maintenance including paving, plowing, striping, and repair during the term of the lease, saving the city an additional estimated cost of $24,000 per year.
When brought to vote last week, four city councilors voted in favor of the lease, while the remaining three councilors chose to recuse themselves from voting. Waterville has scheduled the second and final vote required for the lease’s approval for next Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the city council chamber.