SOUTH PORTLAND – Restoring the banks of the man-made pond at the heart of South Portland’s Mill Creek Park is one of the top priorities for physical improvements being made to the park this year as part of the overall master plan.

Rick Towle, the city’s director of parks, recreation and waterfront, said he’s requested funding from the City Council to get an erosion control project under way this fall and called erosion of the banks surrounding the pond “a legitimate problem.”

He said the idea is to control the ongoing erosion through the use of both hardscape measures as well as planting vegetation. Towle said the city wants people to be able to go down to the water’s edge, but it also needs to be safe and attractive to do so.

As part of its effort to revamp Mill Creek Park, South Portland has engaged in a multi-year, multi-phase project expected to cost about $500,000 in total.

So far, the city has installed a gazebo, walking paths and the Mill Stone Plaza on the Ocean Street side of the park, according to Towle.

He said other upgrades he plans for the new fiscal year include a new electrical system, new overhead lighting and finding “fun options” to continue lighting up the park during the holiday season.

Towle said the city continues to have a problem with ducks and geese at the park, which pose a health risk in terms of the waste they produce. And, he said that putting up signs asking people not to feed the birds hasn’t led to much improvement in the situation.

However, Towle has discovered that leaving more plant life in the pond and around the edges, such as lily pads and cattails, does cut down on the odor and the turbidity in the water caused by bird waste.

Overall he said the capital spending proposed for the park during the new fiscal year is more focused on “correcting threats to the park’s environment,” than some of the more visual improvements that have taken place during the past couple years.

– Kate Irish Collins

The banks of the man-made pond at Mill Creek Park are eroding, causing a serious problem the city hopes to fix this fall. Photo by Rich Obrey

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