The Old Orchard Beach Veterans Memorial Park Committee is hoping to make some upgrades to the park, including creating a memorial knoll, a new gazebo, lighting, and a sidewalk along Staples Street. Tammy Wells Photo

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — There is a distant view of the ocean from Veterans Memorial Park. It is a relatively quiet space, with wide expanses of lawn and colorful, fragrant plantings — and  while beautiful, upgrades for the park are in the offing.

Libby Memorial Library is nearby, as is the Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce Visitor Welcome Center. The Amtrak Downeaster platform brings the unmistakable sounds of the train’s arrival and departure several times a day in summer, and at one distant end of the park, sometimes children’s voices can be heard as they clamber over playground equipment.

Benches in memory of those who have passed are in select locations.

But not all is up to snuff and the Veterans Memorial Park Committee plans to apply for a $500,000 federal grant, administered by the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, to help fund the effort.

In addition, the Town Council approved $250,000 toward a rejuvenation effort a few years ago, and Town Councilor Larry Mead on May 17 told his fellow councilors that if the state grant is approved, the park committee will be seeking additional municipal funds as well as looking for community support.

Some areas that need to be remedied include the steep knoll where a veteran’s monument is currently located, which is increasingly difficult for some veterans to manage, Mead said.


Old Orchard Beach Town Councilor Larry Mead and Holly Korda, who is preparing a grant application for the project, discuss a proposal to upgrade Veterans Memorial Park. Tammy Wells Photo

Other issues include the lack of a sidewalk along the library and park side of Staples Street; the paths within the park are constructed of stone dust and are eroding; and the tall lampposts that hail from when a portion of the park was a parking lot. The gazebo, made possible through the efforts of a Rotary Club initiative in 2005, is constructed of pressure treated lumber and ready for replacement.

In the park on a sunny afternoon, where a group of people played on the nearby Petanque court, Mead and Old Orchard Beach resident Holly Korda, who is writing the grant on behalf of the park committee, discussed the vision for the upgrades.

The committee envisions a Memory Knoll, reached by a curved, gently sloping path to where the monument, which would be moved, now stands. The knoll would feature a long granite bench, a place of reflection. Stainless steel panels etched with words like “courage, honor and patriotism” would be installed.

A sunny day is a good time to play Petanque, as these folks playing recently in Veterans Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach can tell you. Tammy Wells Photo

New lights and accompanying underground utilities, hardscape paths within the park and a sidewalk along Staples Street are part of the plan.

“We have a very enthusiastic committee, and who can’t love this park,” said Korda as she looked around in the sunshine.

A new gazebo, similar to the octagonal gazebo at Ocean Park is envisioned. The model is larger, more open, accessible — and would be the perfect location for a late afternoon musical event.


Mead recently gave a presentation to the Saco Bay Rotary Club. “They’re enthusiastic,” he said, and he plans to speak to veterans organizations in town, as well, to drum up support.

In all, Mead said he expects the project to cost about $1.5 million. The grant will be submitted by the June 30 deadline, and he said he expects it will be a few months before the committee knows if it has been awarded. If it is, the money would be released in 2023; construction would start sometime thereafter.

He said the park, always popular, became busier than ever during the pandemic.

“It was very heavily used,” Mead said.

“I’m a very enthusiastic supporter,” said Mike Dickinson, a committee member whose home is nearby, who was out walking his dog. “I look out at this park every day.”

Comments are not available on this story.