The breadth of ideas generated by Windham’s first “community park forum” showed a clear vision of how some residents would like to see outdoor recreation evolve in town.

At Manchester School last Thursday night, a dozen residents – including Rep. Mark Bryant (D – Windham) and three town councilors – brainstormed ideas for future recreation in Windham.

The two-fold purpose of the forum was to gauge public interest in a new “community park” as well as gather input for new recreational opportunities in Windham.

At the forum, residents surveyed an aerial map of eight acres of town land next to the Windham Skate Park on Gray Road, where the town is considering construction of a new community park, and jotted down ideas for the potential park.

These ideas ranged from tennis courts, bike tracks and a seasonal skating rink to covered picnic areas, playgrounds, bandstands, a paved walking path and an open amphitheater for theater performances.

Currently, seasonal Dundee Park, bordering the Presumpscot River, is the only formal park in Windham. However, there are various wooded preserves and trails open for year-round use.

Topping the residents’ “wishlist” for future recreational opportunities in Windham were increased access to Sebago Lake, improved senior transportation, a town exercise program and construction of a community center.

A public swimming pool was named top priority by high school students when interviewed on the same topic years back. Currently, St. Joseph’s College in Standish allows the public to use their campus swimming pool.

Resident Allen Sample suggested making the newly opened Chaffin Pond into a “kid-oriented fishing park” where families could teach their young ones the art of angling.

“There are plenty of places to fish, but very few places to take a kid and let him learn,” he said.

Residents also suggested the revival of “Old Homes Day,” an annual town celebration that once include a parade and series of town-sponsored events.

While Parks and Rec Director Brian Ross is taking all these ideas into account, the near goal is the creation of a community park. Through the park, Ross hopes to instill a “sense of community” by expanding the existing skate park to included activities for residents young and old.

“I think if we do it right we can have all different age use the park together,” he said.

A second public forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, after which Ross will approach the Town Council with the results. If approved, the community park will most likely be phased in over time using money from recreational impact fees and local donations.

Ideas collected from both forums will be posted on the town’s website, www.windhamweb.com, after the February forum.


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