Now that the first phase of the Rape of Robie Park has commenced, it is now time to dig our heels in and halt any further assault upon it until the citizens of the town have a chance to weigh in on the entire park’s future.

Here is some information on how the less-than-transparent process worked, whereas the town leaders appropriated the park from the citizens of Gorham and appear to be gifting significant portions to the school department. The process may also have been contrary to the steps that the town itself states need to be taken when changing the “land use” for a piece of land.

Aug. 8, 2017 – Town Council item #9255 – Action to consider asking town attorney to begin the process of removing any restriction on the use of Robie Park. (No public notice in newspapers or notification to abutters.) This was a line item on Page 10 of the agenda.

Feb. 22, 2018 – Miscellaneous notice in Gorham Times looking for documentation or information on the Gorham Village Corporation. (Page 5 bottom left.)

April 3, 2018 – Town Council Public Hearing #1 – Public hearing regarding removing easement restrictions on Robie Park to accommodate expansion of Gorham High School. (No public notice or notification to abutters.)

Oct. 23, 2018 – Superior Court order to approve removing the easement.


Feb. 4, 2019 – Community and abutters learn at the first public forum for the GHS Expansion that the restriction has been removed.

January 2020 – Town Council rejects High School Expansion plan. Plan included paving area adjacent to the ballfields for additional parking.

April 18, 2022 – The Rape Begins – Removal of trees adjacent to ballfield to prepare for what appears to be additional parking.

According to a Wilma Gould Johnson’s article in the March 18, 2018, Gorham Times (Page 3), the park was established from a $500 gift from the Martha Robie Estate and the space was to be used for recreational activities. It appears that it was to be administered by the Gorham Village Corporation.

I find it interesting that the momentum to change the status of the park was being done while the school department was putting together an expansion plan for the high school. How convenient.

There are several questions that I believe need to be answered. Such as:


Given that Robie Park was gifted to the citizens of Gorham and now a parking lot appears to be being built upon a one-half to three-quarter acre or so of land in the middle of Gorham village, is there a plan to pay reparations to the citizens for that land? I am guessing that a large parcel of land in the village is worth quite a bit. Is this accounted for in the upcoming school budget that the citizens get some money for the gift that was taken away?

Have traffic studies been completed to ensure that the 60-plus cars in the new lot (not to mention the additional 40-plus spots that have “sprouted” from a previous home location on Morrill Avenue) can move safely out of the area?

Have environmental impact studies been completed to ensure that the additional runoff from any newly paved area is adequate?

Perhaps if the process had been a little, OK, maybe a lot more transparent, we might know the answers.

In closing, it would be great to have the citizens of the town weigh in on the future of the park. If as a community we choose to build it into a parking lot, then so be it. At least all the citizens were involved.

Please express your opinion to our current group of councilors on May 3 at their regular meeting or email them.

Mike Chabot is a resident of Gorham.