Vehicles were parked Tuesday on the site of a former pine grove at Robie Park in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The felling of a tree grove last week in Gorham’s Robie Park is fueling neighborhood fears about future use of the town park.

The old pine grove was nestled in the northern end of the park between its softball field and the high school parking lot. The Town Council in August 2020 approved harvesting the trees after hearing from arborists that they were in bad shape and that branches were in danger of falling.

A Save Robie Park sign at the corner of Morrill Avenue and Ball Park Road. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The cutting down of the tree last week on April 18, the first day of Earth Week, surprised and upset some neighbors.

The School Department has paid $19,000 to have the trees removed.

“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,” Mike Chabot of Morrill Avenue wrote in a letter this week to the American Journal.


Chabot, a neighbor of the park and a resident of Morrill Avenue where the high school is located, is out of town and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

He’s worried the site of the former tree stand will be turned into a parking lot or otherwise incorporated for use by the high school. He and other residents, he said earlier, want the pine grove restored.

Gorham Parks and Recreation Department Director Cindy Hazelton said this week that she’s not aware of any plans to plant new trees on the site.

Arborists said the decaying trees at Robie Park in Gorham should be harvested due to safety concerns, and the trees were cut down last week. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The park was named in memory of Martha Robie, who died in 1915 and was the second wife of Gov. Frederick Robie of Gorham. Chabot, in his letter, said the park was a gift to Gorham citizens to be used for recreational activities and it was to be administered by the Gorham Village Corporation.

The village corporation appears defunct.

The current high school that opened in 1959 was built on a baseball field that was part of the park, according to Ken Knapton, a 1963 graduate who now lives in Westbrook. The college ball team of the University of Southern Maine forerunner played there, along with high school and Pony League teams, he said.


“Growing up, the whole area was a playground,” Knapton said.

The Town Council began working to lift the gift’s restrictions on the use of the parkland more than four years ago. The move was taken “so that in the future the town would be free to use Robie Park as deemed in the town’s best interest by the Town Council,” according to its Aug. 8, 2017, agenda.

Chabot said the town prevailed in Superior Court in 2018 to lift restrictions.

Town Councilor Virginia Wilder Cross said Wednesday she hasn’t received any calls about the tree cutting at the park.

The park has been part of studies in recent years to expand the aging high school and deal with its parking shortage. Superintendent Heather Perry said last week there have been discussions about using the area where trees were removed for additional high school parking, but she said that is not a current plan.

On Tuesday, vehicles were parked off the pavement onto the edge of the park among stumps where trees were cut.

Since the grove has been removed, Chabot worries about the park morphing into a parking lot. He is urging residents to attend the Town Council’s May 3 meeting or email councilors about their concerns for the park.

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