A sign associated with the former Weathervane Seafood Restaurant on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville has come down years after the restaurant was demolished. The sign, missing a letter, is pictured in this photo from July 2021. Credit: Courtesy of Thomas Klepach

WATERVILLE, Maine — A dilapidated seafood sign familiar to drivers traveling on Interstate 95 into Waterville has come down years after the restaurant on the property was demolished.

Waterville’s code enforcement department recently ordered the sign be removed from 470 Kennedy Memorial Drive. The sign was associated with the former Weathervane Seafood Restaurant, which closed in January 2015. Marden’s Surplus and Salvage owns the property and has a store adjacent to it.

The owners had until Oct. 7 to remove the well-known sign, or they would face fines graduating from $100 to $500 a day, City Manager Stephen Daly said during a city council meeting last week.

The property, next to the exit 127 off-ramp of I-95, is in a prime location in Waterville, but it has sat vacant for years. For a city undergoing revitalization worth millions of dollars, the location could be an opportunity to attract more visitors and give residents another dining or shopping option locally.

City officials and owners have discussed several ideas about what could be built there — including a chain restaurant and strip mall — but nothing has come to fruition. Residents have expressed the need for another grocery store such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, a clothing store and an indoor activity space for children, among other options.

Code enforcement officials weren’t immediately available to comment Monday, but Waterville Councilor Thomas Klepach said the sign sat in disrepair for years. The sign, which was missing one of its letters, was an eyesore, he said.

“Honestly, it was a hazard,” he said. “It was kind of rickety on some tall steel girder that could have easily fallen over and hit traffic.”

The sign was removed the week of Sept. 5, Marden’s General Manager Craig Burgess said.

Klepach offered to purchase the sign two or three years ago and left his information with a manager at Marden’s, but he never heard back. He was renovating his home and thought of using it as part of a light fixture.

Now only piles of dirt and stones sit on the property.

After the Weathervane restaurant closed in 2015, Marden’s had it demolished in 2016 once they realized the space was too outdated for a business to settle there, according to the Morning Sentinel. A former car wash and arborists building also sat on the property.

The Mardens were in discussion with prospective developers, specifically national food service chains, but there were no solid plans in place at the time, President Ham Marden told the newspaper in July 2016.

In November of the following year, the Mardens and an engineer proposed a strip mall at the site, which could include retail and restaurant businesses, according to the Morning Sentinel.

Marden’s owners purchased the old Weathervane property as an investment, Burgess said Monday. The company has no firm plans for it, but there are several interested parties, he said.

Burgess said he couldn’t share any more information at this time.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the year that Weathervane Seafood Restaurant closed in Waterville.