Volunteers from the Riverwalk Advisory Committee planted grass seed along the Riverwalk, just in time for today's soaking rain.
This Thursday, May 29, at 5:00 PM, volunteers will meet at the Topsham end of the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge to spread grass seed along the Topsham side of the Androscoggin Riverwalk.
“Snow and ice from the harsh winter took a toll on grass planted after improvements to the Riverwalk were completed in October 2013.” said Nancy E. Randolph, co-chair of the Riverwalk Advisory Committee. “We want to reseed the bare patches before the summer heat.”
Volunteers are invited to join members of the Riverwalk Advisory Committee in this effort. Please bring a rake.
The Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk Advisory Committee is extending a call to artists for submissions to the “Light on the River” juried Art Show and Sale to benefit the Riverwalk project. The “Light on the River” gala will be held on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at the Coleman Burke Gallery at Fort Andross in Brunswick.
An online auction will precede the event. "Riverbank Houses" by Thomas Cornell will be among the items auctioned off, in addition to vacation rentals, airplane rides over Merrymeeting Bay, studio photography portraits and much more.
All works in the Art Show & Sale will be priced at $250. The artist will receive $125 and $125, representing $1.00 for each one-hundredth mile of the 1.25-mile Riverwalk, will benefit the Riverwalk project. An online preview of the exhibit will begin September 8 through the Androscoggin Riverwalk website.
The jury comprised of Robert Colburn, director of the Bayview Gallery; photographer Dennis Griggs, owner of Tannery Hill Studio; and Brunswick artist Connie Lundquist will review submissions and judge the exhibit. The “Light on the River” Art Show is limited to two-dimensional work that fits within the bounds of 125 square inches to represent the 1.25 mile path of the Riverwalk. There will be awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd best in show, as well as awards in the following categories: landscape, still life, figure, animal and abstract.
Entries including a cover letter describing the work submitted, JPEG digital images of up to three pieces, and a brief biography are due August 1, 2014. There is no entry fee. Artists will be notified of the jury’s selections by August 15, 2014, and works prepared for wall hanging must be delivered to Fort Andross between 1:00 & 7:00 PM on October 24, 2014. For detailed instructions and an entry form, click here.
The Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk Advisory Committee will provide funding for an interpretive sign located in the park at the Topsham end of the historic Androscoggin Swinging Bridge. This will be one of three signs included in the first phase of the Topsham Historic District Interpretive Signage Project, funded by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Town of Topsham. The other two signs will be located at the corner of Elm and Green Streets and on the Riverwalk at Summer Street. All three signs are scheduled for installation this summer.
Using historic photographs, maps and text, the signs will address three distinct aspects of Topsham’s heritage. The sign at the Swinging Bridge will discuss the Franco-Canadian workers who came to Topsham to work in the mills along the Androscoggin River and the community they built in Topsham and Brunswick around their homes, work, church and school.
The next sign on the Riverwalk at Summer Street, overlooking Fort Andross (Cabot Mill) and the hydroelectric dam, will address the role of the Androscoggin River – as an ecological entity, as a source of food and transportation for indigenous peoples, as the source of power for industry that flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries and as the inspiration for the 1972 Clean Water Act. Given the complexity of the themes related to this site, this may be a multi-part sign, installed in phases.
"Interpretive signage has always been in our plan," said Cathy Lamb, Co-Chair of the Riverwalk Advisory Committee. "We're still focused on fundraising and completing the Riverwalk. Our committee was happy to help this project meet its funding goals and also add historical interpretive signage to our Riverwalk."
The Topsham Interpretive Signage Project will include the development of a town-wide plan for historic interpretive signage that identifies potential locations and themes for signage at historically significant sites. The town will seek additional funding over time to create and install more signs from a variety of sources including individuals, businesses and organizations.
A Maine Historic Preservation Commission grant to the Town of Topsham is underwriting the research and design costs for the overall project. Nancy Montgomery, owner of Montgomery Design, concurred, “As a resident of Topsham in the 1970s, the town's historic architecture was a source of pride and great inspiration to me. So I am thrilled to be involved in making educational material about the town's history and buildings more accessible to the public. There is such a wealth of historic imagery available that it is a real pleasure to be working with the team: volunteer and town committees, architectural historian, and designer/writer.”
The grant also covers the cost of fabricating and installing two of the signs. A grant from the Riverwalk Advisory Committee will pay for the third sign at the Swinging Bridge. “More signs with a variety of themes are planned for locations throughout Topsham as additional funding becomes available, explained Rod Melanson, Topsham’s assistant planner and the project manager for the interpretive signage program. “As the project progresses we hope that Topsham residents remain involved to aid in the production of the signs by lending historic images and knowledge of their town.”
The Androscoggin Riverwalk welcomes friendly, well-behaved dogs on leashes to share the path with pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users and families with strollers.
For the convenience of dog walkers, two trash receptacles with plastic bags for dog waste are installed on the Riverwalk in Topsham. One is in the park at the Topsham end of the historic Androscoggin Swinging Bridge; the other is near the intersection of the path with Summer Street.
Topsham Public Works staff made minor adjustments to Riverwalk drainage patterns over the summer to prevent cold-weather icing in certain locations along the path. They increased the depth of some swales – shallow, sloped depressions in the grassy soil – and added one additional swale to lead rain water and snow melt to culverts installed under the Riverwalk path. This work will minimize surface water crossing the path toward the Androscoggin and reduce ice formation.
These photos illustrate areas where the Public Works Department modified the swales, nearly invisible in the grass and leaves.
The drainage work was performed outside of the mowed area with no removal of trees, thus minimizing the disturbance to scenic views. Since completed, grass has sprouted and grown in the swales. They seem to be working well in controlling runoff and it is anticipated that they will help keep the Riverwalk drier as the snow melts and the spring showers start.
Finally, there is an area near the parking lot where the water drains across the walk and “puddles up”. This picture from last March show how the sand washes onto the walk. Topsham Public Works Director Dennis Cox plans to cut back the grassy area on the river side of the path to let the water flow off the path more quickly. The work is scheduled for this Fall or in the Spring, at the latest, according to Cox.
Yvonne G. (Brillant) Drolet, her sister, Lucie Jean Brillant, and Romain Savoie, all former Front Street, Topsham, residents, expressed their gratitude for themselves and all the people who worked long hours for many years in the local woolen textile mills for this recognition of their fortitude and industry during the manufacturing heydays of the two towns. Drolet’s son in law, Don Gower, said of the Brillant sisters, “They were just beaming…. It was very thoughtful of you to recognize the history of our neighborhood in this way.”
Design and technical assistance was provided by architect Anthony Muench, Wright-Pierce Engineering, contractor Harry C. Crooker & Sons, Terracon Consulting Engineers & Scientists, National Park Service - River, Trails and Conservation Assistance. Funding for the project was provided by Davis Conservation Foundation, Fore River Foundation, the Alfred M. Senter Fund, and MDOT’s Quality Community Program.
Central Maine Power and NextEra Energy Resources granted public access to land used for the Riverwalk. Brunswick Rotary Community Fund acts as fiscal agent for the project, allowing donations to be tax deductible. Terracon Consulting Engineers & Scientists donated all geo-technical services for this portion of the project. Priority Group LLC and Waterfront Maine/Fort Andross provide meeting space for project volunteers and coordination. The support and encouragement of the Parks and Recreation Departments of both Brunswick and Topsham were indispensable in making the Riverwalk a reality.
Terracon Consulting Engineers and Scientists, a construction testing company, with offices in Westbrook, donated all geo-technical services for the Mill Road portion of the project in Topsham. This included testing soils, compaction testing for soils and pavement and paving inspection/testing.
In addition to his employer's donation, Peter Caron Sr., Topsham resident and spouse of Androscoggin Riverwalk Advisory Committee co-chair Nancy E. Randolph, donated his time for testing and inspection services, providing data to Terracon that in turn was analyzed to provide reports on the project. Sonya A. Wieburg, another employee of Terracon, provided additional testing services.
Cathy Lamb, Co-Chair of the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk Advisory Committee moves the first piece of dirt to being the construction of the Androscoggin Riverwalk, Flanked by Co-Chair Nancy E. Randolph, and joined by (from left to right) Travis Pryor of Wright-Pierce; Rich Roedner, Topsham’s Planning Director, Chris Hinkley of Wright-Pierce, Fred Wigand, committee member, Don Russell, Chair of Topsham Board of Selectmen, Justin Johnson and Ted Crooker of Harry Crooker & Sons, Inc., Pam LeDuc, committee member and Topsham Parks and Recreation Director, Cornell Knight, Topsham Town Manager, Don Gower, committee member, Claudia Knox and Lucy Gower. (Photo courtesy of Androscoggin Riverwalk.)
Today, Cathy Lamb, co-chair of the Androscoggin Brunswick Topsham Riverwalk Advisory Committee wielded the shovel on the first part of construction of the Androscoggin Riverwalk this morning surrounded by town officials, Ted Crooker and Justin Johnson of Harry Crooker & Sons, Inc, Travis Pryor of Wright-Pierce, other committee members and interested residents looking on.
Lamb said, “When I was president of the Rotary Club of Brunswick, the focus for my term was healthy living. It seemed natural that I would be a part of this project. I whole-heartedly urge others to use the loop, tell others about it and donate to help us finish this lovely riverside walking and cycling path.
Since 2009, Lamb and Nancy E. Randolph with the sanction of the towns of Topsham and Brunswick and bolstered by the help of ten other committee members have tirelessly worked to bring about the construction of a 1.25 mile, four-season, fully-accessible, dedicated intown-walking and cycling loop along the sides of the Androscoggin River. The Riverwalk includes the historic Swinging Bridge and the sidewalk of the Frank J. Woods Bridge.
On August 16, the construction contract was awarded to Harry C. Crooker and Sons Inc. to build the first portion, of the loop, that begins at the parking lot of the Topsham Swinging Bridge Park and meets up with the sidewalk of Summer Street in Topsham Lower Village. The Riverwalk Advisory Committee, working with Brunswick resident and Registered Landscape Architect Anthony Muench, created the concept plan vetted by many public meetings in Topsham and Brunswick. Wright-Pierce provided the construction documents at the same time donating many additional hours when the project dragged on longer than expected.
This portion of the project is estimated at $120,000 and funded in part by a grant of a Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Program FY2010-11. The Riverwalk Advisory committee has raised and continues to raise the local match. Fore River Foundation donated $24,000 earmarked for the construction begun today.
Randolph enthused, “We are so happy that Crooker [Harry C. Crooker & Sons Inc] won the bid for this project. We know that the project will be done on time and within the budget allowed. More than that, Crooker’s company has the reputation of such quality that they’ll be no worries. This project will be built right.”
The Brunswick-Topsham area, especially along the Androscoggin River, is a vital historic and tourist region that is in the process of tremendous growth. The Riverwalk will be an added attraction for visitors as well as local residents and employees of Brunswick and Topsham businesses.
Dan Burden of Walkable and Livable Communities Institute said that the Riverwalk was, “… a key component of connecting the downtown with the Androscoggin River… will help bicyclists and pedestrians navigate from Fort Andross’ stores, restaurants and activities into other areas of downtown Brunswick and into the lower village of Topsham.…Each of these activities are increased and enhanced by facilitating bicycle and pedestrian transportation as provided by the Riverwalk.” Burden’s organization completed a study report titled: "Downtown Walkability, Brunswick, ME, 2011-2012."
In addition to this portion that offers a soul-refreshing walk through the woods, the fully-completed 1.25 mile Riverwalk will separate pedestrians & cyclists from vehicular traffic on Maine, Cabot, Bow & Mill Streets in
Brunswick. It will provide alternative safe routes for pedestrians & cyclists between Topsham Heights neighborhood and downtown Brunswick. It will also: encourage walking and cycling over vehicular travel between NorthWest Brunswick neighborhood & Topsham Lower Village; be an asset for employee recruitment and retention with its availability for short, healthy walks for employees during lunch or before or after work; add commerce to local businesses as Riverwalk visitors patronize nearby businesses, restaurants, retail shops, and galleries and allow safer and easier access to the historic Roebling design and build Androscoggin Pedestrian Swinging Bridge.
Another portion of the project has seen progress. Wright-Pierce on a pro bono basis has completed construction documents with estimates for that portion of Mill Street that connects the west end of Bow Street with the Swinging Bridge park. Brunswick’s town staff and the Riverwalk committee members have completed a grant application for the completion of the 1.25 mile loop.
Randolph stated, “The Riverwalk project is another opportunity for me to work with both the Topsham and Brunswick communities continuing to work together on a mutually beneficial project, as we did on the successful Androscoggin Swinging Bridge restoration. The Swinging Bridge and now the Androscoggin Riverwalk is a symbol of the connection and cooperation between Brunswick and Topsham today and in the future.”
For more information, click here or leave a message for Nancy E. Randolph at (207) 837-6187 or visit our website.
The Androscoggin Riverwalk linking Brunswick and Topsham via the historic Androscoggin Swinging Bridge and the Frank J. Wood Bridge will be a safe, fully-accessible, all-season 1.25-mile loop path for pedestrians and cyclists.