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New trail planned for Portland's Eastern Promenade

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New trail planned for Portland's Eastern Promenade

PORTLAND — Friends of the Eastern Promenade is leading an effort to build a proper trail from the Loring Memorial down to the Eastern Promenade Trail near Marginal Way.

The Loring Trail would replace a well-worn path that currently cuts up the steep hill and resembles a ravine. In addition to creating a loop around the Eastern Promenade, the trail head at Marginal Way (also called Sewage Plant Road) near the Washington Avenue overpass would connect to the Bayside Trail, which is under construction.

The trail head at the Loring Memorial end would be near the North Street crosswalk.

Regina Leonard, the landscape architect who designed the trail, said it is important to build an established trail on the hillside because the current path acts as a drainage swale, and erosion is an issue.

Last year, Leonard worked with Friends of the Eastern Promenade, the city and Portland Trails on the Fort Allen trail, which connects Fort Allen with the Eastern Prom trail.

Similar to the Fort Allen Trail, the Loring Trail will have granite steps in sections, and include new plantings along the trail.

Leonard said Friends of the Eastern Promenade has identified several trail improvement projects for the park. Portland Trails and the city have teamed up with the Friends again for this latest project.

Diane Davison is president of the Friends group. She said she hopes construction of the Loring Trail will begin this summer. The Friends applied for a $35,000 Maine Recreational Trails Grant in November, and expects to hear by the beginning of March if the trail will receive funding.

Davison said if the grant doesn't come through, her group is prepared to conduct fundraising and find the money somewhere else.

"We'll do what we have to," she said.

Friends of the Eastern Promenade began organizing in December 2006; it elected its first slate of officers in October 2009. The group has about 50 members and a Web site, friendsofeasternpromenade.org where it posts events, projects and membership information.

At a meeting Jan. 20, the city's Historic Preservation Board unanimously approved the project.

"It's wonderful to see the restoration of paths there," said board Vice Chairman Rick Romano, who grew up on Munjoy Hill. The Maine Historic Preservation Board has also approved the proposal.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net