The town of Yarmouth wants to restore and revitalize Latchstring Park, considered an important and valuable green space in downtown. File

YARMOUTH — The Town Council has asked a group of residents to look into redeveloping Latchstring Park, an underutilized and neglected pocket park that sits in the hub of upper village.

The request came after the town’s recently adopted Open Space Plan underscored that access to parks and green spaces is particularly important for maintaining a thriving downtown. According to Chairwoman Susan Prescott, the aim is to redesign the open space “to make it a more useful and appealing park.”

The park is located at the corner of West Main and West Elm streets and includes a stone monument etched with the names of the winners of Yarmouth’s annual Latchstring Award, which is given to residents for outstanding service to the town.

Prescott was one of a handful of people who began pushing the council to do something about conditions in the park about two years ago. At that time, she said, “aside from the grass being mowed regularly the park (was) largely neglected, and it’s much more of a parking lot with a bit of grass than a true park.”

In particular, Prescott said the rear of the park was in bad shape “with piles of leaves, branches and other debris.” In fall 2018, she and others organized a neighborhood cleanup at the park. They spent about three hours “digging out” and found an abandoned stockade fence and a car battery, among other items.

Prescott said as she and others began to look at the condition of the park and how the space was being used, they wanted the town to take action. Now, a task force is charged with making recommendations for “improvement to the safety, function (and) aesthetics” of the park, she said.

Restoring Latchstring Park is important, Prescott said, because Yarmouth’s village area is densely populated and still growing. She also fully embraces the idea that “green spaces enhance the experience of living and working in Yarmouth and … provide spaces to gather and relax and add character to the village,” as stated in the new Open Space Plan.

“We have a strong history of preservation of open space, which includes the priority of having an attractive walkable downtown,” Prescott said. “There are also considerable health and wellness benefits (associated) with access to the natural environment.”

What’s most important, though, Prescott said is “these small (green) spaces along Main Street are accessible to people of all ages and abilities.”

She said the volunteer task force includes concerned residents and neighbors, as well as a member from the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce and a representative of the Village Improvement Society. The task force is also getting help from the town planner, the director of economic development and the Economic Development Advisory Board, Prescott said.

She did not provide any specifics, but said “as a committee (with) diverse ideas and priorities, we are working toward a plan that balances the need for parking with the value of green space, trees and enhanced aesthetics.”

Check the town’s website weekly at yarmouth.me.us for the next scheduled meeting of the Latchstring Park Task Force.

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