Little-known Portland park seen as Woodfords community hub

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PORTLAND — Members of Trinity Episcopal Church on Forest Avenue for more than 50 years have been caretakers of a small public park next door.

Now the Friends of Woodfords Corner, a neighborhood group working to revitalize that area of the city, is stepping in to lend a helping hand.

The friends group is holding a park cleanup day Saturday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 

Trinity Park is one of 11 pocket parks that dot the city, according to Teresa Valliere, president of the Friends of Woodfords Corner. She said partnering with the church to improve the park is one way to create community, while also beautifying the neighborhood.

The plan for the upcoming work session at the park includes heavy weeding, Valliere said, as well as diagramming the existing site to use as a baseline for a new landscape design.

“The two groups, Trinity and FWC, will also have a chance to meet each other, and we hope to meet lots more neighbors who might come by to help,” she said.“There are few things that bring people together as well as working side-by-side on a shared project.”

Steve Brown, the junior warden in charge of buildings and grounds at Trinity, said the park is less than a half acre in size, “but it’s like our front yard, so we want it to look good.”

Brown said the park is the result of a land swap between the city and the church in the early 1960s, when the church wished to expand its sanctuary.

The church, founded in 1884, is at the corner of Coyle Street and Forest Avenue.

In addition to the pocket park, which includes a small fountain, the church also sponsors a Little Free Library for neighbors to use.

This week Brown said he’s glad of the infusion of willing hands and the enthusiasm the Friends of Woodfords Corner will bring to help keep the park looking good.

Although the park is small, he said, “it’s really a lot of work.” Along with the lawn, the park also includes a series of flower beds in front of the church.

Brown said it’s his understanding that at one time a former member of the church “did quite a bit of landscaping” at the park, but when she got sick a few years ago, upkeep of the park lagged.

That’s why he started a Monday-morning crew that gets together each week to help care for the park, as well as other aspects of the church. This week, for instance, the group was rearranging pews in the sanctuary.

Brown said the church often uses the park for special events, such as a recent welcome picnic and Sunday brunches during the summer months.

But the hope is to make the park more of a focal point for the whole neighborhood, according to Jill Finberg, vice president of the Friends of Woodfords Corner.

“The more people who know and care about it, the better,” she said.

Phase II of the park project, Valliere said, will include developing a park design that would meet the city’s approval.

Phase III “would be a spring planting, and finalizing a plan for ongoing landscape maintenance and upkeep so that it does not rely solely on the church members,” she said.

The Friends of Woodfords Corner also plans to reach out to potential sponsors and other partners to help with funding the redevelopment plan, Valliere said, adding that “more will be revealed this winter.”

Although the friends group has big plans for the pocket park, she said it’s also “really important to highlight (the church’s) long-term commitment to the area.”

The goal of the friends group is to “work together to create a village experience around the second-busiest intersection in the state,” Valliere said.

“We’re envisioning a local village hub, and even though the traffic will remain heavy through the corner, we’re weaving a community around it that feels useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The Friends of Woodfords Corner is partnering with the Trinity Episcopal Church to care for this small pocket park, one of 11 scattered around Portland. From left, The Rev. Lawrence Weeks, Jill Finberg, vice president of the friends group, and Steve Brown and Bob Richards, church members and groundskeepers.

The Friends of Woodfords Corner have big plans for the future of this small pocket park, located adjacent to Trinity Episcopal Church at the corner of Forest Avenue and Coyle Street.

This overgrown section of Trinity Park in Woodfords Corner will get the most attention during a park clean-up event planned for Sept. 30.

Flower beds, surrounding the Trinity Episcopal Church sign, are also part of a small pocket park that sits adjacent to the church.