2012-07-13 / Front Page

Mill Creek concerts to begin amid construction

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Despite ongoing construction in Mill Creek Park, the free outdoor summer concert series will begin on schedule later this month.

Crews from Peters Construction of Gorham are working “in full-scale reconstruction,” City Manager Jim Gailey said at a city council meeting Monday, July 2. Workers are currently in the process of adding a rock facade on the walls that border the pond on the side of the Greenbelt Pathway and redoing pathways near the intersection of Ocean Street and Broadway.

The work is slightly behind schedule from the original plan submitted this spring, when Peters Construction estimated the project would be done by the middle of this month. Gailey said after crews finish with the project they’re currently working on, they will then move on to expand the sitting area and pathways near the Service Monument in the park. That project should be done around the end of August or early September.

Members of the Service Monument Committee were on hand at a council workshop on Monday, July 9 to thank members of the council for approving work to improve the monument area this summer.

“This monument means a lot to a lot of different people. We’ve seen over the course of the last year, and even on July 3, what this really means to the people of South Portland,” said Jake Myrick, a veteran and a member of the committee.

Recently returned veteran Dane Porter was welcomed home on Tuesday, July 3 at the monument by a “flash mob” of friends and family, who sang the theme to the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter.”

“It’s exciting progress, but if you didn’t see the plans you would just be wondering what is happening to the park,” Gailey said at the council meeting on July 2.

The council decided at the recent workshop to fully implement changes around the service monument this summer. The original plan was to make minor improvements while holding off full-scale changes until later.

The summer concert series will start later this year than it normally does, said Recreation Superintendent Bill Cary, but the timeline for construction still overlaps with the proposed concert dates. The series will begin Wednesday, July 18. Last year, the first concert was held July 6.

“We’re hoping the public will be patient with the project,” Cary said.

Both Cary and Gailey said the gazebo and viewing area will be clear of any construction equipment. Cary said the parks and recreation department has also discussed adding signs in the area to inform the public of what stage the project is in.

“We’re really excited about the project and what it will look like in the end. We’ve got some really great music lined up. Hopefully the public will bear with the inconvenience,” Cary added.

The Mallett Brothers, a local folk rock band from Portland, will kick off the series. The band won awards in the 2012 Portland Phoenix Best Music Poll for best local act, best album, best live act, best roots act and best song.

Luke Mallett, singer and guitarist in the band, said playing outside suits the band’s style.

“We’re mostly a rock band, but we’re rootsy and acoustic enough that we can play on the back on a flatbed,” Mallett said.

The Mallett Brothers recently performed outdoor shows at the Old Port Festival in Portland and the Strawberry Festival in Cape Elizabeth before heading out on the road on a tour that took them through Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Jason Legacy, the manager of the band, said he’s not worried about the construction keeping spectators away.

“These guys have played random farmers markets all over the east coast, so they know how to play a random outdoor show and bring people in. Even people who don’t know who they are will stop when they’re playing for 20 minutes or so and listen,” Legacy said.

Mallett was not concerned either.

“We’ll jump in and help out if we need to. We’ve laid stone before. We don’t mind,” he joked.

Following the Mallett Brothers show, Mill Creek Park will hold a concert each Wednesday evening until Aug. 15. All shows start at 6:30 p.m. and will go until 8 p.m. The Don Campbell Trio will play on July 25, followed by Tricky Britches, Motor Booty Affair and the Time Pilots. Rain dates for each show are the Thursday immediately after the scheduled date.

While concert-goers at those shows will see a work in progress in the park, City Councilor Tom Coward said the project will pay off in the end.

“I would look at that appearance of the park and think of Michelangelo carving his famous status of David,” Coward said at the July 2 council meeting.

“I don’t think anybody really complained when they walked into his workshop and asked, ‘What’s all this mess? Why is this thing so ugly right now? The answer is, well, wait until it’s done. I’m certainly waiting until our masterpiece is done. I think it will be a wonderful centerpiece for our city.”

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