BIDDEFORD — Anyone who knows anything about Japanese knotweed, sometimes called “bamboo” hereabouts, knows how difficult it can be to remove from a garden once it has a toehold. It grows big, and the roots are deep.

The roots of Clifford Park run deep in this city ”“ as deep, if not more so, than the weeds that stubbornly grow here. And there’s a group of folks who are mightily interested in keeping Clifford Park pretty and vital and inviting.

A handful of them ”“ folks who are part of Biddeford’s Adopt-A-Park ”“ turned out on a sweltering Saturday morning to rake and clip and trim in Clifford Park ”“ named for the Clifford family who owned the property until 1894, when it was sold to the city, well below market value, for $1,500, according to information compiled by Saco Bay Trails. Clifford Park was dedicated two years later.

Lilies were planted at the park, located on Pool Road, a few years ago, but the knotweed moved in. Volunteers Holly Culloton, Catherine Glynn and young Ricky Orgill were working away at it on Saturday, while Paul Glynn was cutting brush and tree limbs away from some of the trails.

The gateway to Clifford Park, off Pool Road, is marked by columns. In its heyday, a sign proclaiming its name hung there, but the original sign is long gone. That will change however, as Clifford Park continues its renaissance ”“ a metalsmith, Dana Peck, has donated his time, the volunteers said, and will recreate a historical-looking sign to arch over the columns.

Adopt-A-Park was created a few years ago to encourage volunteers to help keep city parks in tip-top shape. The city’s public works crews mow the city parks, but the city hasn’t had the resources to devote to beautification efforts.

Culloton noted several volunteers that look after city parks, including the folks from the Community Bicycle Center, who help look after Clifford Park; The University of New England and Knights of Columbus, who help with Mechanics Park; Union Church, Liberty Park; Youth Build students, Shevenell Park; Trudie Young, who has adopted Cannon Place; McArthur Library, which maintains the corner of Main and Elm streets; Jean Cosgrove and Carolyn Gosselin, Riverwalk; Job Placement Services, Williams Court; Linda Waters and Bob Mills, the newer section of Williams Court; York County Master Gardeners, Pierson’s Lane; Carrie Stackpole, Canopy Park and Joan Brooks and Holly Culloton, the Washington Street school park.

Culloton noted that public parks can quickly become overgrown, unkempt and unsafe.

“The more, the merrier,” said Culloton as she invited more community members to get involved. “People want beautiful, green, open spaces. Consider coming out. We’ll work together.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324”“4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282”“1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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