Monday, July 14, 2014

Lippman Park takes shape and seeks additional funds - By Michelle Libby

The changes to Donnabeth Lippman Park in a year are staggering. The road has been improved and a parking lot has been added. A new clearing made space for a playground and picnic area to be added in 2015/16. This weekend a Boy Scout Eagle project added a raised walkway over a marshy patch of trail around Chaffin Pond. 
The park, located behind Sherwin Williams in North Windham, is an unspoiled slice of nature in the center of North Windham. The town owns the property after purchasing it from the Portland Water District. Local resident and businessman Martin Lippman reimbursed the town the $400,000 it paid and asked that the park be named after his late wife.

Parks and recreation director Brian Ross plans to go before the Windham Town Council on July 22 to ask for approval of $36,000 for more improvements to the 123 acre property. The recreational revenue fund will add $8,811 to the grant. In addition to that money a $4,300 grant from the Recreational Trails Program through the State of Maine will go to pay for the Conservation Corps of Maine to build two bridges and a boardwalk at Donnabeth Lippman Park 
The park is intended to be used by families, pet owners and active members of the community, said Ross.
The 10-acre pond is not for swimming, however Sebago Trails Paddling Company is using one of the existing building to store kayaks that can be rented by the hour. Community members are invited to use their own non-motorized boats as well. 

The improvements are only helping the public access the park and the over 60 species of birds, which was counted by Ben Smith, the Town of Windham planning director. 

There is a well on site that could be used eventually for drinking and the buildings are wired for electricity.  Arrangements just need to be made with the utility company, said Ross. 

The first part of the improvements like the road, parking lot and open area cost approximately $150,000, Ross said. 

Ross hopes to encourage more Scouts looking for Eagle projects to consider creating more raised walkways, add fishing docks and possiblely work on the playground and picnic areas. There is a section of the park that is earmarked for a Boy Scout camping area and will need work. There is a plan to also add benches along the trails. 

A trail that leads away from the pond is being readied to add an interactive picture book, where children can read one page of the book every 20 feet or so. The book, according to Ross, takes the children on a bug safari. That is being paid for with a grant from Opportunity Alliance.  

In addition to the birds, other wildlife includes snapping turtles, deer, beavers, pickerel, bass and trout. Fishing during the summer is allowed as long as live bait is not used. 

The park is available for use in the winter as well for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. No ice fishing is allowed on the pond. 

Ross encourages the community to stop by for a walk and to see the progress.

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