Willard Beach in South Portland. Drew Johnson photo/Press Herald

South Portland has presented its Willard Beach master plan. The plan is the result of years of work by the Willard Beach Master Plan Committee, which was which created ad hoc in 2019, and with city staff and consultants. The plan is intended to create a vision and a path for management and investment of the area for the next 10-15 years.

The committee created a report and drafted a master plan before presenting it to the city council on March 14. Public discussion and comment occurred in the March 28 meeting. The council adopted the plan on June 6.

The plan affirms that Willard Beach is a “highly valued natural resource and recreational destination,” and recognizes the dune system there as critically important as a wildlife habitat and a protection against storm surges and sea level rise. The goals for the beach in the final report are to “protect and restore natural resources, mitigate poor water quality, improve beach access, ensure infrastructure is resilient and enhances beach character, and acknowledge and engage the cultural history.”

To view the full plan and report, visit https://www.southportland.org/our-city/board-and-committees/willard-beach-master-plan-committee/.

Willard Beach was also recently closed and then reopened due to a broken force main pipe that burst near Southern Maine Community College. The pipe burst on June 1. The city disabled the nearby pump station and with their contractor, Shaw Brothers Construction, identified and repaired the break on June 2.

The beach was closed while the Water Resource Protection and Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront departments tested the water. The departments tested for the standards set by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Maine Healthy Beaches program. Initially, the water was considered unsafe in two locations, before returning to safe levels.

The beach was reopened on June 7. The city also tests the water at Willard Beach regularly twice a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

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