SOUTH PORTLAND — The continuing work at Mill Creek Park will include a new element after councilors Monday approved funding for improvements at the Veterans Green.
By a unanimous vote at a special meeting preceding a council workshop, councilors allocated about $17,000 in undesignated funds to pay for paths to the area dedicated to military veterans.
A six-sided monument with a sculpted metal flame was installed last summer in the area off Broadway, adjacent to Pratt Abbott Cleaners. But improved access to the site was shifted to the second phase of work at the park when councilors approved the first phase last fall.
City Manager James Gailey said shifting the work to the second phase did “a disservice to the Veterans Green design.”
Kenneth Myrick, chairman of the monument committee, thanked councilors for supporting the plan revision in the only public comment before the vote. Myrick is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Kosovo in the late 1990s, and now a Republican candidate in state House District 123.
The decision to expand the scope of work in the memorial area beyond improvements to the base of the monument drew full support that was summed up by Councilor Tom Blake.
“It was like having a parade without inviting the band,” he said before voting in favor of a change order on the park construction, awarding a contract to Gorham-based Peters Construction.
The company is already at work on $321,000 worth of park improvements, including new pond retaining walls, a new public garden and an entrance at Ocean Street and Broadway. Gailey said the improvements to the Veterans Green have been scaled back from an initial estimate of $70,000 to the expense approved by councilors.
Monument visitors will be able to use paths similar to those already planned in the park. Gailey said the decision not to install enhanced drainage under the green area cuts costs, without creating worries about wet conditions affecting the area.
The change order and funding for improvements also creates a timetable for completing the work, because the second phase of work in the park master plan has been approved without available funding or a work schedule.
“We really haven’t started talking about Phase II yet,” Gailey said.
With the exception of municipal funds allocated Monday, improvements to Mill Creek Park are funded through state Community Development Block Grants. Those grants are likely not going to be available for the second phase of work.
Mill Creek Park visitors will have improved access to the monument honoring military veterans after South Portland councilors on Monday approved additional funding to link the area to the rest of the park.