Royal River Park in Yarmouth will get more than $360,000 in improvements thanks to a recent federal grant.

Renovation and modernization plans include improved parking, added lighting, enhanced landscaping, wheelchair-accessible walking paths, tennis court reconstruction and more pickleball courts.

In addition, the footbridge connecting Bridge and Elm streets will be upgraded, according to Yarmouth Community Services Director Karyn MacNeill.

“That’s a huge addition to the community,” MacNeill said. “It’s a major walking route for downtown businesses.”

Royal River Park, with its woods, riverside trails and open spaces is a popular spot for recreation and as a gathering place for community events, but it has been in need of some upgrades. The town applied for a $361,830 grant from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund in the fall of 2021 and Sen. Angus King was instrumental in seeing it through.

“I’m a great supporter of our national parks and state parks, but I also think these local parks and opportunities for people to get out and enjoy the wonderful Maine countryside are so important,” King said in an interview with The Forecaster.

Local parks also offer towns an opportunity to develop economically because they are attractive to people looking to relocate. New residents bring new business to small towns like Yarmouth, he said.

“In this day and age, you can work where you live instead of having to live where you work,” King said. “If you can decide where to live, aren’t you going to go to a place that’s nice, that has a lot of amenities?”

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