The Biddeford City Council recently authorized the city manager to execute land conveyances in connection with proposals that would add about 100 acres to Clifford Park through a land swap and land gift. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Clifford Park could expand by about 100 acres, as discussions continue about a land swap and a gift of property.

The park is located at 130 Pool Street and at 140 acres, encompasses tennis courts, a picnic area, a small skate park, a playground — and walking and hiking trails.

Recently, the City Council gave the nod authorizing the city manager to execute land conveyances with Mike Eon of E & R Development Corporation, and with Gervais Dube. The conveyance would give 4.2 acres of land currently in the park to Eon in exchange for 60 acres he owns. Dube offered to gift 42 acres in exchange for an appraisal, Recreation Director Carl Walsh told the City Council at an October meeting. The properties abut the park.

If the proposals both pan out, it will add 100 acres to the popular park, founded and gifted to the city 125 years ago by the Clifford family. A marker at the bottom of the iron gates that grace the entrance to the park sports the 1895 date.

“It’s s quite an opportunity,” Walsh said on Monday, adding that the city has long desired to add the waterfalls — which is on part of the land that could go to the city — to the park.

The waterfall area is often a destination for the public in any case, Walsh said in a memo to the council, though it is currently private property.

“This beautiful feature added to the trail system would give members of the public the opportunity to enjoy this natural resource,” said Walsh.

Dube, a retired property developer,  told the council he bought the 42 acres he proposes to donate to the city in 2006.

“I kept looking at it and thought, if the city owned (the land), it would have access from West Street,” said Dube in part. “I thought the city should own this. I hope if this goes through it stays a park.”

City councilors expressed support for the two land proposals, but some questioned how the city would be able to maintain an expanded park.

“It’s a great idea and I’ll support it,” said Councilor Doris Ortiz, but added, “how are we going to maintain it, since it will be twice as large?”

Walsh said a good part of the maintenance now is a volunteer effort, and that more volunteers will be needed if the land is conveyed to the city. He said the Maine Conservations Corps is occasionally able to help but he noted that without volunteers, resources are limited.

“We’ll be leaning on the community,” Walsh said.

“I’m very supportive,” said Councilor Amy Clearwater. “I love Clifford Park. It does foster good community warm feelings to go there and do the volunteer work.”

“I’m a big supporter of it, and I like hiking in Clifford Park and being able to get to the falls is paramount,” said Councilor William Emhiser.

Walsh said the Biddeford Recreation Commission supports the addition of the properties to Clifford Park.

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