Bath planners OK South End Park improvements

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BATH — The Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a site plan amendment for South End Park.

The approval, which came without comment from the public, follows up on a straw vote of support by the City Council in May for improvements to the Washington Street riverside park, which previously belonged to nearby Bath Iron Works.

The work will be funded by $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 park is a popular venue where dogs can run freely, and residents have been calling for improvements that would make it friendlier to humans and canines alike. Suggestions have included expanded parking, a seasonal water station for dogs, new signs and more trash cans and benches.

Although city staff had proposed several improvement options that varied by the degree of fencing, it was much of one suggested by Bruce Kaake of West Street that the City Council ended up supporting Wednesday.

Kaake called for fencing, with three gates, to be pushed close to Washington Street and the parking area, to maximize open space in the park. He also proposed no fencing along the shore, so that the view of the river would not be obstructed.

The city went before the Planning Board Tuesday seeking approval to expand the existing parking lot, and to install fencing. 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 – and requires approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The city’s plan does not include landscaping for the parking lot, since the capped nature of the property makes landscaping impermissible by DEP standards, City Planner Andrew Deci said.

Since the city code normally calls for landscaping, the city – as the applicant – requested a waiver from that requirement.

The application is being reviewed by DEP, and the city’s approval is contingent on support from the agency.

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

Sidebar Elements

Tim Greenman of Phippsburg, right, holds up a ball for his dog, Meya, a 16-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever, at the Bath Dog Park in April.

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.