PORTLAND – Paddle boats and even swimming might return to the pond at Deering Oaks one day if the city opts to match a federal grant with $500,000 in local funds.

A $1.2 million project that would include resurfacing the pond’s muddy bottom was introduced Thursday night during a meeting of Portland’s Parks Commission.

City staff members presented the commission with a list of proposed capital improvement projects for next year that includes installation of a solid bottom for Deering Oaks’ pond.

Michael Bobinsky, Portland’s director of public services, said the city has an opportunity to use federal money to help pay for a solid, level bottom in the pond that would improve water quality and curb algae blooms, which overran the pond in the summer of 2010.

Bobinsky said the city has learned that it will be eligible to receive about $700,000 from the federal Environmental Protection Agency if it can supply about 40 percent of the cost for the improvements.

The proposal must be presented to City Manager Mark Rees by Dec. 15 for consideration as a capital improvement project.

One year ago, the city began removing decades of accumulated mud and gunk from the bottom of the pond at Deering Oaks.

Crews ended up removing about 4,000 cubic yards of material from the pond — the volume equivalent to two, two-story homes. The pond’s original sandy bottom was covered by mud as deep as 2 feet.

The combination of leaves and debris from storm runoff is believed to have triggered a massive algae bloom in the pond during the summer of 2010, as the decaying material released nutrients into the water.

Bobinsky said a flat, solid bottom would make it much easier for crews to clean the pond and prevent blooms. He said the material that would be used has yet to be determined.

Paddle boats, which were used on the pond in the late 1990s, could return, as could public swimming — though that prospect is much less likely for the immediate future, Bobinsky said.

Other capital improvement projects being proposed include:

Spending about $25,000 to repair the roof at Eastern Cemetery’s Dead House, a shed on top of the City Tomb. The project would include funds to install a staircase that would connect the shed to the tomb.

Expanding Evergreen Cemetery. The cemetery is expected to run out of burial space by 2014.

Spending more than $30,000 to repair fences and walkways at Lincoln Park.

Members of the Parks Commission, who oversee the management of Lincoln Park, talked briefly about the Occupy Maine encampment, which has been in the park for more than two months.

Members said they will consider, at a future meeting, setting time limits and hours in which protests can be held in all city parks. Such a proposal would eventually need approval from the City Council. Occupy Maine is in violation of city regulations that forbid overnight camping. Protesters were granted a verbal waiver by city officials after being asked to move from Monument Square in October.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]