Bath completes South End waterfront park improvements

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BATH — After many months of planning and labor, improvements at South End Park are complete.

A new welcome sign, and perimeter fencing and gates, are among the additions to the dog-friendly park, which sits between Lower Washington Street and the Kennebec River. Among other new amenities are bait-cutting stations at the pier, expanded parking, an updated dog-watering station and half-log benches.

A new sign that stipulates the rules says although dogs are allowed to run off leash, they must be kept under control at all times, under voice command and within sight. All dog waste must be immediately picked up and deposited in receptacles at the site. Dogs must also be up to date with vaccinations, and wear collars that show their rabies tag.

For people, smoking and alcohol are not allowed at the park.

Now at the finish line of a long process, city Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni said Monday, “It’s great. It’s a good example of how the public process should work.”

Recalling the many ideas presented to the city regarding park improvements, some of which were expressed at public forums, Balboni said, “We took their ideas … made a few tweaks along the way, and I think from what I can tell, everybody is quite pleased with what they have down there. It’s certainly a busy park.”

The work, which was done this summer and fall, was authorized by a Planning Board site plan amendment in August 2015. The unanimous approval followed a straw vote of support by the City Council the previous May for improvements to the park, which was owned by Bath Iron Works.

The work was funded with $100,000 from BIW, which the shipyard gave the city in return for being granted a contract zone agreement to build an outfitting hall. The project remained within budget, Balboni said.

The city went before the Planning Board in August 2015 for approval to expand the parking lot and install fencing. Since the project sits on a “capped” piece of property – it is built on a layer of clay 18 inches below the surface to contain contaminants in the soil – it also required approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Long-planned improvements at Bath’s dog-friendly South End Parkare finally complete.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.