Town centers will be spruced up--some offering waterfront access for the first time--and historic landmarks restored with nearly $900,000 in new federal money, Prince William officials announced yesterday.

The six projects span the county and range from restoration of a landmark mill destroyed by arson last year to building a scenic pedestrian overlook of the Occoquan River. The projects are funded by $875,000 in grants earmarked to improve transportation, whether by foot, bicycle or car.

Most of the projects are in their third year of federal support, which until now has paid for design and engineering plans. But this year, the planning will turn into real bricks, mortar and asphalt, and create visible improvements for Prince William residents and visitors.

Quantico and Occoquan officials will use their share to capitalize on their shorelines, providing motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and even boats access to the Potomac River for the first time.

"It's another form of access to your town," said Quantico Mayor Mitchel P. Raftelis.

Raftelis said that with Quantico's $75,000 grant, he hopes to break ground in the spring on a new parking lot, paved and gravel walkways and a timber deck and trail on the town's waterfront. A 4.2-acre park on River Road also will get a volleyball court and new play areas.

In Occoquan, a $200,000 grant will pay for a renovated parking lot at the north end of Mill Street, new pedestrian sidewalks and streetlights, as well as benches, bicycle racks and a scenic overlook of the river.

"The waterfront has no real public access now," Mayor Patricia M. Conway said. "This is a start, we hope, of many things to come."

Restoration efforts also will get a boost. Beverly Mill, an imposing wood and stone structure on the Fauquier County line and one of the county's most historic landmarks, was gutted by a fire 11 months ago. A group of preservationists mounted a campaign to save the mill--and received a $300,000 grant that will help rehabilitate it. The first step will be to shore up the building's underpinnings this fall.

The other projects scheduled to break ground this year are:

* Continued restoration of the historic courthouse and church in Brentsville; $150,000.

* New curbs, five-foot brick sidewalks, bicycle lanes and racks, Colonial-style street lights, benches and trees on Washington Street in Haymarket; $100,000.

* A design and engineering study by the county of landscaping and straightening Joplin Road from Interstate 95 to the entrance to Quantico National Cemetery; $50,000. The road winds considerably and is flanked by deep ditches.

Each project includes a 20 percent contribution from the town, county or restoration project, officials said.