This project, and Lewiston’s broader plan to transform the Tree Streets Neighborhood and downtown corridor is situated in a broader environmental justice movement and green gentrification paradigm, where the creation of renewed or revitalized green spaces and urban centers can lead to the displacement of longtime residents. Public spaces play a critical role in the health of a community, and nodes of community culture grow up around them. The City of Lewiston is looking to build safer, healthier environments and allow all residents living here to thrive. However, the city must strike a delicate balance that provides these benefits, maintains the character of the community, and while maintaining ensures that residents can afford to stay and will not be pushed out by rising costs due to gentrification.
In conjunction with the City of Lewiston Economic and Community Development Department, our project aimed to understand the utilization and perception of three public spaces in Lewiston through observation and interviews, create a replicable methodology so that the study of these spaces and others could be reproduced throughout the future, and map economic investment in downtown Lewiston using ArcGIS Storymaps. Our study centered around three spaces: The Lisbon Street Corridor spanning between Main Street and Ash Street, Simard-Payne Memorial Park, and Marcotte Park. For the Lisbon Street Corridor, we observed increasing numbers of pedestrians and business interaction as the day got later, centering around the afternoon after working hours. Further, we observed higher proportions of pedestrians interacting with businesses on Lisbon Street on the weekends before dinner time, with interaction predominantly occurring with restaurants and dispensaries. Usage for Simard-Payne centered predominantly around the running path, with elevated levels of usage occurring in the afternoon hours. Simard-Payne is also frequented as a fishing spot, with individuals taking advantage of the waterfront access to the Androscoggin River. Marcotte Park, while seeing some pass-through usage, was used in the most part for its accessible playground. We observed high rates of usage by children on the weekends, with adult or teen chaperones spending time on the provided benches and tables while the children played on the park infrastructure.
These observations and observational methodology, data records, and analysis methodology have all been recorded and organized in this report so that the City of Lewiston Economic and Community Development Department is able to easily replicate this work. Listed in the appendices are our park characteristic sheets, sampling criteria tables, interview questions, and all else needed to replicate our study. We hope to have aided the city of Lewiston in its ability to understand its past investments, and how future investments might change utilization and perception of public spaces within the city.
Beckerman, Elly; Rorick, Hart; and Beardslee, Jasper, "Understanding Utilization and Perception of Public Spaces and Mapping Economic Investments in Downtown Lewiston" (2021). Community Engaged Research Reports. 81.