Today’s MUP internship update comes from Willa, another student from the USA working in Maine this summer.
I am in living southern Maine for the summer interning with a private developer at the Pepperell Mill Campus, a mill redevelopment project, in the small city of Biddeford. This is an adaptive reuse project, which spans a 16-acre site with over 1.5 million square feet of available floor space. The mill buildings were constructed in the early 1840s and unlike most other mills in the area, which closed in the 1970s, the Biddeford mill remained operational until 2004 (you can read more about their history on the website). As a result the buildings themselves are in remarkable condition. They’ve got good bones.
So, what have I been doing aside from spending time with my family, enjoying the beautiful summer weather and nearby beach? I think the more appropriate question is what haven’t I been doing. I have been involved in a wide variety of projects. It is somewhat difficult to explain them all but generally I have been attending city meetings, crunching numbers (yay proformas!), creating a comprehensive master plan presentation, and researching grant funding opportunities, specifically for brownfields.
The largest issue facing the city of Biddeford is that it has been home to a trash incinerator, the Maine Energy Recovery Company (MERC), for the last 25 years. MERC has hindered development and inhibited investment in the downtown. Recently, the city has been trying to make a deal with MERC to close down the plant. I have attended several city council meetings throughout the summer to discuss the concerns and questions of the local community as well as the deal itself. The most recent meeting, last week, was a breakthrough. After 6 months of negotiations the council voted 8-1 in favor of the deal. MERC will be purchased by the city this coming November and will be deconstructed within a year. This is HUGE for the lives and livelihoods of the community as well as the continued redevelopment of the mill.
Throughout my work this summer I have been able to reconnect with my environmental studies background. I realize that my true interests lie in redevelopment projects, more specifically brownfield sites. This has been an amazing learning experience and I have met some incredibly interesting people.
I’m looking forward to getting back to Montreal and starting year two!