2015-04-10 / Community

More improvements coming to Mill Creek Park

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Mill Creek Park is scheduled to get a second application in an ongoing facelift – the latest result of a master plan developed almost five years ago.

On Monday, the city council awarded a $111,733 bid to Risbera Brothers Construction of Westbrook to shore up the banks of the pond at the center of the site.

“I think this is yet another civic investment that is a wise one,” Councilor Claude Morgan said. “This is in some ways the heart of our city. I think we owe it to everyone to keep that investment lively.”

“I think Mill Creek Park was one of the things that our forefathers and foremothers were very, very smart to carve out in this park in the middle of our city,” Mayor Linda Cohen agreed. “They thought it was a good idea to create this park, and it’s our responsibility to maintain it and keep it the wonderful place that it is.”

In developing the 2010 master plan for the park, which cost $10,000, landscape architect Regina Leonard of Topsham laid out work to occur over several phases in order to reduce costs in any one fiscal year. The first phase was completed in October of 2012 at a cost of $321,000. At that time, public access was enhanced with the gate at the corner of Broadway and Ocean Street, walking paths were rebuilt, electrical upgrades were made, fixtures were updated and stone masonry work was started in various areas of the park.

In addition to installing erosion control measures around the pond, Risbera will create what City Manager Jim Gailey called “safe access points” for those who participate in ice skating and other activities. Risbera also will install bases for future lampposts. Gailey said most of the lampposts likely be put up by the city’s parks and public works departments, depending on how much money is left over from various Community Development Block Grant projects being done around the city this summer.

The Mill Creek work is being completed with money awarded from a CDBG grant for the current fiscal year. Work will “commence immediately as weather permits,” Gailey said, adding that it should be wrapped up by the annual Art in the Park show in July.

Risbera’s bid was the lowest of five received by the city. Gailey said he and Parks Director Rick Towle were “very intrigued” by the number submitted by one of the other bidders for a possible side project, which would create a cast-in-place concrete wall around the pond, similar to the one at the Broadway and Ocean intersection.

However, Towle said even that low bid was deemed more than the city has on hand at the moment in CDBG dollars and will have to wait for another time.

While councilors praised the ongoing project, one city resident at the April 6 council meeting addressed what many think is the park’s one drawback.

“I think it’s wonderful that you are going to throw some money into that. It’s a real gem,” said Russ Lunt of Brigham Street.

“I just wish you could keep people from feeding the ducks, though,” he said.

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