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Downtown Vitality Impresses Water Company Board

One of the cleanest rivers in U.S. helps drive economic rebound

The Board of Directors of the Maine Water Company, which has been investing heavily to upgrade its local public water supply and distribution systems, got a first-hand look today at some of the major revitalization projects currently taking place in downtown Biddeford and Saco.

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The Saco Falls project, at the top pf York Hill, is now being refurbished. It will bring several new restaurants, and hundreds of new residents, to downtown Saco.

“I was really impressed by how much is happening here, and how quickly,” said Bradford Hunter, a Maine Water board member. “With the better part of two million square feet of space already developed or under development now, you really have to see it to grasp the full scope of what’s going on.”

Hunter lives in Cumberland Foreside and is the recently retired Chief Financial Officer of Dead River Company and former CEO of Fleet Bank of Maine.

Craig Pendleton, executive director of the Biddeford, Saco and OOB Chamber of Commerce, organized the tour. Escorted by Saco Mayor Ron Michaud, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and several other community leaders, water company officials first toured the Saco Mills project in Saco. They then crossed the new pedestrian bridge between the two cities, before visiting the Pepperell Mill Campus, and Pepperell Center, a building that houses Think Tank, Portland Pie, Banded Horn Brewery, Impact Fitness Center, Angelrox, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and many other businesses. The Saco Falls project is now under construction, and when finished will bring hundreds of new residents to Saco Island. The Pepperell Mill Campus has been in a sweeping transformation for more than a decade, and continues to attract dozens of entrepreneurs and many new residents to downtown Biddeford.

Saco’s Mayor Michaud said local leaders were glad for the chance to discuss continued investment in basic infrastructure, and they were proud to show off the economic revitalization in downtown Biddeford and Saco. Nevertheless, he said that other conversations with members of the Maine Water Board of Directors were equally important, and made an impression on him.

“They have a keen understanding of the Saco as a vital resource,” Michaud said, “and in particular, they have a real respect for the important work of the Saco River Corridor Commission. Maine Water plans to further invest in a treatment facility along the Saco River to meet the long-term water supply needs of the area in an environmentally sustainable way. As everybody knows, this river is so important to our lives, and it’s one of the cleanest in the Northeast. It’s great to know we have a partner who’s committed to keeping it that way.”

Judy Wallingford, president of Maine Water Company, stated, “Maine Water is proud to have invested about $11 million in drinking water infrastructure to serve the region between 2013 and 2015, with an additional $2.5 million in spending projected in 2016. Having access to a robust water system is an important consideration for business leaders as they consider growing their businesses and creating jobs in the Biddeford Saco region.”