Fort Williams plan sees new revenue, safety improvements

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The third iteration of the Fort Williams Master Plan, introduced to the public Wednesday, continues to emphasize pedestrian access, parking improvements and safety precautions.

The town Comprehensive Plan requires the Fort Williams Master Plan to be updated every seven years. The first plan was created in 1990, then again in 2003.

On Wednesday, the Fort Williams Advisory Commission and consultants from Mitchell & Associates in Portland outlined the purpose of the update, its goals and recommendations for future improvements.

John Mitchell of Mitchell & Associates said the 2011 plan will continue to provide a baseline of current conditions at the park, outline the demand for services and prioritize improvements that will maintain the quality of the park for the next seven years.

With the help of a community survey, the commission and consultants were able to solicit information about how the park is used, concerns residents may have and suggestions for future use.

Nearly 400 people responded to the questionnaire, including 308 Cape residents. People indicated their favorite aspects of the park were the views, open space and natural beauty. They were most concerned about vandalism and theft, pedestrian circulation, vehicle speed, safety along the Cliff Walk and the condition of bleachers, stairs and walls.

Mitchell made several recommendations, including vehicle and pedestrian circulation changes, parking lot facility improvements, handicapped accessibility, and safety and visual upgrades.

One of the recommendations is to create an additional picnic area to help generate revenue for the park.

Commission member Dan Chase said a new picnic shelter is a top priority, too, because of its potential to generate revenue. Other priorities include crosswalks, paths and removing invasive species, he said.

“A lot of the items in the Master Plan are long-term goals that require planning and funding,” he said. “The plan is in place as a guideline and something to work toward.”

Commission Chairman Bob Nickerson said the 2011 update would be finalized by December, and then presented to the Town Council for consideration. Once it is approved, he said it becomes the operating plan for the park.

“A lot of this involves funding,” he said. “We try to prioritize what we are able to do with the funding available.”

The proposed plan is on the town website.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Folllow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson