WESTBROOK, Maine, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The City of Westbrook and Sappi Fine Paper North America announced today a collaboration to study opportunities for the recreational and economic development of the Saccarappa Falls stretch of the Presumpscot River in downtown Westbrook. Options to be examined include the potential removal of Sappi's hydroelectric dam located at the Falls and to provide effective fish passage while preserving the aesthetic value of the site. As part of this collaboration, Sappi will provide the City with engineering resources and expertise as well as explore the donation of land along the Presumpscot River to the City of Westbrook.
As a major employer in the Westbrook community, Sappi looks forward to working with the City to protect this stretch of the Presumpscot River for all users and to contribute to the vitality of Westbrook and the region. In exploring alternatives, the City and Sappi will specifically focus on ensuring timely and effective fish passage at Saccarappa Falls for blue-black herring, alewives, shad and other species. As a part of this collaborative work, the City and Sappi will work with local and state agencies as well as environmental groups to identify, study, and implement chosen solutions.
"The Presumpscot River runs through the heart of our community and we think it is the key to our environmental and economic revitalization," says Mayor Colleen Hilton. "The more natural and accessible this stretch of river becomes, the more likely it is that fish species will flourish, and recreational use of the river will expand. We hope that all of our stewards of Maine's rivers, including Sappi and the regulatory agencies, can look back on this as a significant moment in time."
The City of Westbrook is currently in the midst of a number of other initiatives with public, private and non-profit organizations, including Sappi, to improve the overall quality of life in Westbrook. The City has made recent investments in the "River Walk" along the Presumpscot, giving residents more access to walking trails that connect several major public parks. The City will also install ramps and floats in the river this spring to promote kayaking and other recreational uses of the river. With Sappi's support, the City of Westbrook has filed a grant application with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to explore the potential impact of dam removal and to provide successful fish passage while maintaining the natural aesthetic of the site.
"It's important to Sappi that we invest in the communities in which we operate, especially in a city such as Westbrook, where our history dates back to over 150 years," says Donna Cassese, managing director, Westbrook Mill, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "We are embarking on this collaboration in hopes that it will yield the most positive results for the people who live, work and play around the river, while keeping in mind the impact our decisions have upon the environment."
Sappi is dedicated to upholding its commitment to the Westbrook community as well as working within the constraints of its licensing requirements from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The City of Westbrook and Sappi Fine Paper North America are excited about this opportunity to meet both the needs of the environment and the community.
About The City of Westbrook
The City of Westbrook has a population of 17,494 and sits on the western edge of Portland, Maine's largest city. Westbrook is home to some of Maine's largest employers including Sappi, Idexx, Disability RMS, Acadia Insurance, and Synergent & Maine Credit Union League. Westbrook is also a key player in the Portland and Mountain Division Trail systems; host to some significant snowmobile trail linkages; and has many other unique environmental attributes such as Millbrook Stream and the City Forest. Westbrook has begun to look at low impact development and energy alternatives that create balance between environmental preservation and economic development.
About Sappi Fine Paper North America
Sappi Fine Paper North America, known for innovation and quality, is a preeminent North American producer of coated fine and release papers and market pulp headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Its coated fine papers, with highly recognized brand names such as McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo, are used in premium magazines, catalogs, books and high-end print advertising. The company is also the world's leading supplier of release papers for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries, including the globally recognized Ultracast brand. Sappi's release papers provide the surface aesthetics for synthetic fabrics used in footwear, clothing, upholstery and accessories, as well as the textures for decorative laminates found in kitchens, baths, flooring and other decorative surfaces. An integrated pulp and paper producer, with state-of-the-art pulp mills, Sappi is the third largest seller of hardwood pulp in North America.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (NYSE, JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with over 14,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 100 countries around the world. Learn more about Sappi at: www.sappi.com/na.
For further information:
William D. Baker
Assistant City Administrator, Business & Community Relations
City of Westbrook Maine
Manager, Corporate Communications
Sappi Fine Paper North America
SOURCE The City of Westbrook; Sappi Fine Paper North America