Colin Durrant, of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and his daughter walk out onto the beach at Winslow Park in December. The 2020 Winslow Park annual report shows the park was able to keep its financial head above water because many people took advantage of the outdoors during the pandemic. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

FREEPORT —  Winslow Memorial Park and Campground brought in enough revenue to cover its costs this year, despite a late opening with limited capacity.

According to Park Manager Neil Lyman, Winslow Park, a town-owned park that encompasses around 90 acres at 50 Winslow Park Way, didn’t open for the season until late June, and the campground was kept at 70% capacity. The gatehouse, meeting house and game room were closed to visitors throughout the season.

But the self-funded facility managed to break even in spite of a decrease in total gross revenue from $346,271 in 2019 to $254,915 in 2020, according to the Winslow Park Annual Report, which was to be discussed at a meeting of the Winslow Park Commission scheduled for Feb. 8. A new handicapped-accessible ramp to the beach was also on the agenda.

Although events such as family fun day, the concert series, and the triathlon were canceled, the park saw a lot of activity as people looked for outdoor escapes. The report states there was a large increase in midweek rentals, and weekend sites were always booked to max capacity.

For some, it was a safe choice to make during the early months of the pandemic. Susan Hazzard, chairperson of the park commission, said she walked through the park, situated on a peninsula between Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River, almost every day during the season and never noticed any violations of COVID-19 protocols.

“I feel so grateful to live in an area that has such a beautiful gift that people can go to and recover themselves in the midst of all the stress,” Hazzard said. 

According to Hazzard, the commission has not yet made decisions regarding regulations for the upcoming season, but will do so according to CDC protocols as the season approaches.

According to Lyman, the project to build a new ramp to access the beach was planned for last year, but was put on hold due to the financial uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Lyman said the handicap ramp was built in the 1960s and has spurred complaints because of how steep it is.

“The project consists of two van-accessible parking spots that are directly attached to a concrete ramp that’s actually at a proper grade to get a wheelchair or just someone who has trouble with mobility down to the beach,” Lyman said. “What we’re going to do is put in removable mats that are really heavy-duty that you roll down and into the water.”

Lyman says plans are 95% finalized, and the park is working on permits. Ideally, the ramp will be completed by June to be accessible during peak season. 

The park is currently open for day use from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset, and will be open from May-October for camping this year.

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