A patch of trail seen as an important link in Westbrook’s Stroudwater Trail system has connected Stroudwater Street to the downtown.

Trail advocates believe the new section will be heavily used, as it provides a shortcut from the high school to the city’s skate park and downtown Westbrook.

Jaime Parker, the director of Portland Trails, was hard at work last Thursday during a trail-building event at the site. Parker and co-worker Daniel Bishop were building one of two footbridges that were needed along the stretch.

“This is kind of a missing link,” he said.

Both Parker and Bishop were standing in the shallow ditch, Parker with a chainsaw, Bishop holding a pick ax.

Parker said the patch is just one piece of a 20-mile loop, 80 percent of which is in place.

Ten miles of the loop is the existing Forest City Trail in Portland, which connects to the Stroudwater Trail into Westbrook. A major unfinished piece of the loop is a bridge over the Stroudwater River.

Kelsey Teegan, a program coordinator at My Place Teen Center, was leading a small group of kids volunteering their time, spreading mulch along the trail.

“We thought we’d come out and help,” she said. “We’re just putting some mulch down now, but it’s looking good.”

The path stems from the skate park parking lot and disappears into the woods next to the Hannaford supermarket. The trail then comes out just past the Westbrook Armory. Parker said signage will help trail-goers pick up the next section of trail behind Westbrook High School.

In the other direction, Parker said, the goal of the project is to connect the Stroudwater and Presumpscot rivers. From the skate park, the trail will eventually connect over Main Street and onto the Westbrook riverwalk.

Work was funded by the Westbrook Recreation and Conservation Commission. Peter Burke, a landscape architect who serves on the commission, said last week that this piece of trail is an “important link” in getting connectivity into downtown. He also agreed that the path could be popular for kids.

“It’s a nice little shortcut to the high school,” he said.

Referring to the overall trail system, Burke said, “We’re just trying to make connections anywhere we can.”

Parker said brush along the path was cut a few weeks ago, and markers were put up to pinpoint the bridge locations. Last week, volunteers helped groom the trail with mulch while Parker and Bishop erected the bridges.

Eventually, Parker said, about 10 people showed up to help out, and the portion of trail is now open. Signage along the section will soon follow.

“We got some great work done. I think this trail will get a good amount of use, as it links the high school with downtown,” he said. “We even opened up a nice view of the pond back in there.”

Daniel Dishop, left, and Jaime Parker of Portland Trails complete a footbridge spanning a section of trail behind Hannaford in Westbrook. The section of trail is seen as an important link connecting the Stroudwater Trail to downtown Westbrook.  Staff photos by Andrew RiceA volunteer walks along a patch of trail behind Hannaford last week after raking mulch onto the path.Staff photos by Andrew Rice

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.