A possible expansion of the skate park at Dougherty Field in Portland is generating excitement among skateboarders.

The expansion would double the size of the heavily used skate park in the southern end of the field, a 4-acre facility that includes a swimming pool, playground and playing fields bounded by Douglass and St. James streets.

The Portland Parks and Recreation Facilities Department is hosting the first of two meetings to elicit ideas for the expansion, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East End Community School cafeteria.

Skaters at the park Saturday said they are eager to hear more and give their input.

“It is a little too small for 30 to 40 people who are here in the afternoon,” said Casey McAndrew, 21, of South Windsor, Connecticut, who uses the park when he visits his grandmother in Portland.

The park was criticized as too small when it opened in 2010 with a mix of public and private money but is nevertheless considered by the skateboard crowd to be the best skate park in the state.

“This is the best park within a 50-mile radius,” said Jeff Dunton of Biddeford, who teaches skateboard lessons at the park with his brother Jeremy Dunton.

Jeremy Dunton said on a Saturday in July there may be 60 people of all ages using the park and people have to take turns when it gets busy.

On Saturday about 20 people, from little girls and boys to grown men, raced around the concrete structure on roller blades, boards and scooters.

Freeman Campbell, 6, of Auburn was making his first foray around the park.

“Did you see that, Mom?” he asked as he whirled around the course on his skateboard, undeterred by several falls.

His mother, Laura Campbell, said they made a special trip to Portland, staying in a hotel overnight, so Freeman could practice his skills.

“Anything that gets kids outside away from video games and television,” she said.

Portland Parks Director Ethan Hipple said the expansion will probably include an open concrete plaza area and a pump track, based on preliminary input from an event at the skateboard park last summer.

Hipple said the existing skateboard park has been well received by the neighborhood and is heavily used by the residents.

The Wednesday meeting will include a brief overview of the need for expansion and a presentation on the design of elements that could be added.

The skate park cost about $250,000. About half of that came from the city and the rest was raised by the local skate community.

City officials said they plan to pursue a similar funding partnership for the upcoming skate park expansion.

A preliminary plan for the skate park expansion has been posted on Facebook

A second meeting seeking input is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. June 28 at Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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