People visit Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Monday. The Town Council decided Monday night to start charging people from out of town to park in the lots closest to the lighthouse and scenic paths, to fund the park’s operations. Press Herald photo by Gregory Rec

CAPE ELIZABETH — The town is addressing erosion and pedestrian problems at Captain Strout Circle around Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park, with the planning board approving site improvements on Dec. 17.

Updates to the 12,000 square foot area will include a new bench, next to the gift shop, a new granite curb and pavement where there are currently grassy and dirt patches, said John Mitchell, a landscape architect and principal of Mitchell & Associates.

In the site’s proposal, visitor safety and easier foot traffic flow are the biggest reasons for the project.

There will also be posts and chain fences put up to keep pedestrians off of the grass, said Mitchell.

The planning board unanimously approved the amendments.

“I’m glad to see these improvements being made,” said planning board Member Jonathan Sahrbeck. “I know for a fact from being up there that there’s a lot of bare spots with no grass and mostly just dirt. I like the inclusion of a park bench — wish we could add more, but I understand the applicant kind of restricted in the amount of park benches that were allowed.”

He said that the planning board had been discussing this plan since its workshop on Nov. 5.

There will also be some relocation to keep children from climbing on property, said Mitchell.

“The final improvement consists of relocating the horn,” he said. “Kids were climbing the base of the horns and it becomes a safety issue, so we’ve relocated it to this enclosed area.”

The pavement will create three viewing areas for visitors, Mitchell said.

“These are the areas where visitors can congregate to photograph the site and the views, and there are a lot of these areas which were designed to be grass,” he said.

In the proposal’s memorandum, it says that one of the goals of the project is to address erosion.

“I mentioned there is erosion occurring in this area, primarily because it is bare ground,” said Mitchell. “During heavy rains, we do experience minimum erosion.”

Mitchell said that the project will soon be open to construction bidders.

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