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Mill Creek Park to be rededicated in South Portland as Knightville work nears completion

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Mill Creek Park to be rededicated in South Portland as Knightville work nears completion

SOUTH PORTLAND — A summer's worth of projects in the center of the city are wrapping up in the next couple of weeks.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, ceremonies to rededicate Mill Creek Park will be held at the park gazebo, capping the first phase of park improvements. The new shelter for ice skaters at the park pond, donated by the Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, will also be dedicated.

Nearby – and by Monday at the latest, according to city officials – a one-block stretch of Ocean Street between E and D streets will become one-way northbound. The change comes as a result of the project to install storm water mains throughout the park area and Knightville.

City Manager James Gailey said he expects the entire Knightville project to be completed by Nov. 15. Brad Weeks, senior engineer with the city Water Resource Protection Department, set a more optimistic goal, weather permitting.

"By the end of next week, we should be pretty much done," Weeks said.

The $3.6 million project, funded with $3 million of city money and $600,000 from the Portland Water District, altered life above and below ground along Ocean Street, Cottage Road, Market Street and the "alphabet" streets in Knightville throughout the summer. Construction noise and unpaved streets and sidewalks were the norm as crews installed mains and other infrastructure.

The first phase of work at Mill Creek Park culminated with the construction of a new stone entrance at Ocean Street and Broadway, but the work included nearly all areas of the park, from the seating areas near the pond to the Veterans Green off Broadway.

The shelter took about three years of planning before being brought to the City Council as a gift by Rotary Club member Dan Mooers about a year ago. The park redesign and renovations are part of a master plan by Topsham-based landscape architect Regina Leonard that councilors accepted in 2010.

The first phase of improvements included new pond retaining walls, new walking paths and a new garden adjacent to the Broadway and Ocean Street entrance. The total cost for the work was about $338,000. All but $17,000 was funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the state.

There is no schedule or funding for future phases of park work, Gailey said during the summer.

The Knightville project is part of a larger, 10-year plan to ensure waste water and storm water are handled separately, which will reduce flow at the city waste water treatment plant on Waterman Drive.

Weeks said storm water will now flow to new outfall areas near the treatment plant at at the end of E Street, and through a new main replacing an existing one under F Street.

The $3 million city share of the project used funding from a reserve fund of sewer user fees, tax increment financing and Maine Department of Transportation and state Community Development Block Grants, Gailey said. The project will not affect local property tax rates.

Gailey said the remaining work schedule calls for pavement striping, minor repaving and repairs to the traffic circle at Legion Square. Crews poured and shaped concrete sidewalks last week. New street lights will be turned on next week.

The traffic flow change on Ocean Street was approved by councilors last month to allow angled parking to continue in front of businesses on the block. The decision reversed an initial plant that would have allowed two-way traffic with parallel parking on both sides of the street.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.