SOUTH PORTLAND — Almost 10 years after it was first proposed, city councilors on Tuesday finally approved establishing a trail from Broadway to Highland Avenue.

The trail along a walking path used for years by the public will be formally known as the Hinckley Connector.

It runs between the former Maine National Guard Armory on Broadway and Hinckley Park on Highland Avenue, along a Central Maine Power Co. transmission corridor. It will connect the park with the Eastern Trail, which runs along the Greenbelt Walkway on Broadway.

The city has been talking with CMP about creating the trail connection for several years. But it wasn’t until recently that CMP was willing to sign a license agreement for access. Now, city officials can begin to improve and widen the surface of the trail to increase accessibility and improve public safety.

“People have, realistically, been using this trail for years,” Mayor Claude Morgan said. “CMP only recently came forward and gave the approval.”

Former Mayor Tom Blake, a board member of the South Portland Land Trust who spoke at the Aug. 6 meeting, thanked both CMP and Portland Pipe Line Corp., which will allow the trail to cross an oil pipeline easement.

“This may seem like a simple easement or simple trail, but it’s a phenomenal opportunity for this city,” Blake said. “We’ve been thinking about it over a decade. I’ve attended dozens of meetings where we talked about making this happen. When you’re dealing with utilities, it’s not easy.”

The Parks and Recreation Department, Blake said, will do the bulk of the work to improve the trail and place signs, with help from the land trust. A crosswalk at Highland Avenue between the trailhead and the parking lot at Hinckley Park will also be established.

“This will connect the Eastern Trail with the 49 acres of Hinkley Park,” Blake said. “Anyone who lives in Pleasantdale, or Knightville, or Ferry Village currently needs to bike up Ocean or Anthoine (streets). … But now they can split it right up the middle. It’s a power-line trail, yes, but it’s beautiful and teeming with wildlife.”

The South Portland Land Trust and its Trails Advisory Group has had this project on its radar for many years, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Karl Coughlin said, and this new trail represents a significant connection and expansion of the city’s trail network.

“It’s an honor and privilege for me to come in, toward the end, and support your hard work,” Councilor April Caricchio said. Other councilors agreed, saying it made a lot of sense to have the trail formally adopted as an official connector, since the public is already using it.

The vote to establish the trail was unanimous.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail may take place in October when the improvements are complete, Blake said, although he wasn’t sure of the specific date.

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