Portland ‘fencing’ operation finances Fort Allen improvements

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PORTLAND — By the end of the week, it will be hard to know the old fence on the path near Fort Allen Park has been replaced.

Yet the 356-foot sections of wrought iron extending past the U.S.S. Portland memorial are one of the finishing touches to the park restoration, and were funded in small part by the sale of what they replaced.

“We are in the homestretch of completing Fort Allen,” Diane Davison, executive director of Friends of Eastern Promenade, said Monday, days after the entire fence was sold to one buyer.

“We had quite a bit of interest and the proceeds directly help the restoration,” she said.

Neighborhood resident Peter Leopold said Tuesday he bought the fence for $5,000 and will reuse it later this summer.

“We appreciate anything that has stood the test of time, it should not go to a scrap heap,” he said.

The park fencing extends on the foot path toward the Portland House apartment building; the first portion was replaced in 2014.

Davison said it would have cost an additional $76,000 to complete the job, so work was put on hold. In two years, the cost increased by almost $11,000, Davison said, but the Friends decided last October to finish the job.

The same contractor, city-based R.E. Coleman, is handling the work.

The Friends decided to complete the project this winter using the organization’s own funds because the finishing touches are due to be installed this spring, Davison said. Visitors will see new interpretive displays and signs detailing the history of the fort and the views it provides of Portland Harbor.

The $1.5 million project, funded privately and by the city, includes new benches, a restored loop around the bandstand, bandstand improvements, and the restoration of two Civil War-era cannons.

The fort was used for artillery placements during the Revolutionary War, but was more formally constructed when America went to war with Great Britain for a second time in 1812. It was named for U.S. Navy Lt. William H. Allen Jr., who served in the War of 1812 and was the son of a Revolutionary War Naval officer.

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

Zackery Smith bolts new sections of fence together at Fort Allen Park in Portland on Monday, Jan. 11. The cost of the new fence was offset by the sale of the old sections.

More than 350 feet of wrought iron fence was removed at Fort Allen Park in Portland last week and sold to a neighbor, who will use the fencing along the Eastern Promenade.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.