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Year-long restoration to begin for Portland's Fort Allen Park

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Year-long restoration to begin for Portland's Fort Allen Park

PORTLAND — Work could begin as soon as this week on a long-anticipated restoration of Fort Allen Park, the historic, five-acre open space adjoining the Eastern Promenade.

Plans approved last year by the city's Historic Preservation Board call for removing most of the park's evergreen and crabapple trees, which were not included in its construction more than a century ago. But the Mugo Pine, a tree often used as a "jungle gym" by neighborhood children, will remain, according to Diane Davison, executive director of the Friends of the Eastern Promenade.

Other trees and shrubs will be planted along the park's entrance and a network of pedestrian paths, which will closely follow their original routes. A path leading to the park's bandstand will be restored, and cobblestone gutters will be installed along the path and the the park's loop drive.

The project also includes repairs to the bandstand and Civil War cannons, and the addition of park benches and low-level bollard lights along the pathways. The overlook above Casco Bay will also be made handicapped-accessible.

Funded by private donations and more than $1 million in city funds, the project is expected to be complete by October 2014 – the bicentennial of Fort Allen, which was built to protect Portland Harbor during the War of 1812.

The park contains the berms of the fort as well as land acquired by the city during the 1890s. In succeeding years, the city added improvements, such as the bandstand, benches, walkways, the drive and the overlook.

Although listed today on the National Register of Historic Places, the park gradually fell into disrepair, with some paths being eliminated and the drive being rerouted.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.