Topping off ceremony marks development in downtown dorm

Last Thursday morning, Sept. 28, the final steel beam for the new 10,000 square foot residential complex at 150 Main Street in downtown Waterville was signed and hoisted into place in a ceremony with Colby faculty and students as well as many residents of Waterville. Multiple speakers, including President of the college David Greene, Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae, and Waterville Mayor Nicholas Isgro, reflected on the opportunities created by this new building and shared their excitement for the future.

“I think what will happen inside this building will be bold and audacious,” said Dean Burell-McRae in her speech on Thursday. “We will create a vibrant residential community of 200 students who are committed to civic engagement… and will build on the strengths of this wonderful Waterville community.”

The building, due to be completed in August 2018, will not only act as housing for a large number of Colby students, but will also act as the hub for relations and partnerships between Waterville and Colby College on Main Street. Much of this project was designed with the goal of increased interaction with the Waterville community, something Dean Burrell-McRae touched on in her speech.

“These efforts [for increased interaction] will be coordinated in our new center for civic engagement and community partnerships. The center will be located right here in this building. In this new center, we could imagine bringing speakers downtown, developing co-teaching opportunities with Colby faculty and community leaders, organizing community seminars, expanding our Colby Cares About Kids program, and coordinating more intentional volunteer opportunities— just to name a few. This is our chance… to foster deep engagement, to acknowledge and value the different lived experiences of many, to challenge injustices and create change.”

Mayor Nicholas Isgro echoed these sentiments, showing his excitement not only for the potential of an improved relationship between the College and the Waterville community, but for the possible economic and social benefits that such an influx of students could bring to the city’s downtown.

“We stand here today at not the end of something, but only the beginning of an enormous effort to revitalize the city of Waterville,” said Isgro. “This kind of project has brought a sense of unity to the community that I have never seen before. Because regardless of politics, regardless of socioeconomic background, there is something at stake here for every single person in the city of Waterville.”

Greene, who concluded the ceremony, thanked the various groups and people who made the building a possibility, including the construction workers who he said had been “getting it done” despite the time crunch for its completion next Fall. As it is crucial to enclose the building before winter so construction can continue, the placement of the final beam is an important factor in finishing the project by its deadline.

“This beam going on top is in fact the cherry on top of this building,” said President Greene as attendees lined up to sign it. “It’s how you know something great is coming.”   Construction on 150 Main Street is scheduled to continue as planned until the building’s completion date in 2018.