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Landscape changing at Cape Elizabeth's Fort Williams Park

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Landscape changing at Cape Elizabeth's Fort Williams Park

CAPE ELIZABETH — Construction work at Fort Williams Park is progressing on three projects included in the park's Master Plan.

The work is part of a comprehensive overhaul of the park that includes renovation of 10 areas. These three rose to the top of a priority list set by the Town Council in early 2012.

Crews are working in the Ship Cove area of the park, north of Portland Head Light and just south of Goddard Mansion.

"The work is going well so far," Public Works Director Bob Malley said this week. "We've finished pouring the pad for the group picnic area and roughed in the cul-de-sac for the parking lot."

Crews have also started work to landscape, connect and enhance walkways in the area, and to improve the area's storm water drainage.

Once the picnic area is complete, the town will rent out the space, which will eventually be able to accommodate a canopy for large gatherings.

The Ship Cove work will cost $145,000 and is funded entirely through money generated from the park, Malley said. The contractor for the work is Peters Construction of Buxton.

It is expected to be complete in mid-June, Malley said.

The Master Plan also includes work on the Goddard Mansion, Battery Knoll, the Head Light grounds, Officers' Row and the Southwest Preserve, among others.

Malley said it may take a decade before all of the Master Plan work is complete, noting that more items could potentially be changed or added in the future.

The park improvements are coordinated with and follow the Fort Williams Foundation's massive redesign of the arboretum in the summer of 2012, which saw the Cliffside cleared of invasive plant species by more than 400 volunteers. Crews also connected the arboretum to the lighthouse through a gravel trail system and installed benches along the way.

The $400,000 project was the second of three phases and was funded and organized by the foundation, which garnered most of the project's support from in-kind donations.

The foundation is also sponsoring 15 other sites for improvement in the park, including a $500,000, one-acre children's garden, which will be located behind the tennis court near the pond on the west side of the park. Portland-based Mitchell & Associates' design was selected for the project in November.

Construction of the "playscape" garden is slated to begin this summer.

While the Master Plan work could take years, the foundation plans to have its three phases complete by the summer of 2014, in time for the park's 50th anniversary.

Fort Williams is one of the most popular parks in the state, visited by more than 800,000 people every year.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.