Betsy Cook, the Maine state director for Trust for Public Land, said the new 24-acre North Deering Park is a “hidden gem” that will help fill a need in the neighborhood. Cullen McIntyre/Staff Photographer

A new city-owned park is coming to Portland’s North Deering neighborhood.

The 24-acre park will mostly preserve existing wooded areas and trails, with little development planned. But city and state leaders say the park helps fill a need in an area that lacked public green space.

The sale of the land went through last week, with the city purchasing two private properties for $833,000 – paid for with state and federal grants and private fundraising.

Though currently somewhat overgrown, North Deering Park is now open to the public for “informal neighborhood use” like walking dogs and using existing trails, said Ethan Hipple, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities.

The city now will take over its upkeep. There is an existing baseball field that the city will make some improvements to this summer, he said, but largely the area will remain open green space as part of the grant terms.

“I think all along the vision has been to improve what is there,” Hipple said. “It’s going to remain pretty much in a natural state.”


Currently, there are no plans to add a playground or larger infrastructure, he said.

Tucked behind a community of houses down a dirt road, the park opens to a vast clearing and unpaved parking lot. Worn bleachers and a snack stand overlook the former Little League field, which Betsy Cook, the Maine state director for the Trust for Public Land, said will likely become a multi-sport field.

The surrounding woods give the feeling of being in the country, despite being wedged between residential parts of the city.


The city bought the land with grants from the federal Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program ($400,000) and the Land for Maine’s Future Program ($160,123), the Portland Land Bank ($80,000), and $192,877 in private fundraising.

The acreage is “a hidden gem,” Cook said.


The project has been in the works for years and is intended to be part of a national movement to ensure all residents are within a 10-minute walk to some kind of green space.

“This neighborhood was a missing link until now,” Cook said.

The city plans to clean up the old baseball field at North Deering Park, but otherwise, the park will largely remain as is, with wooded areas and walking trails. Cullen McIntyre/Staff Photographer

Most of Portland, 94%, met that mark, according to the Trust for Public Land. The new park brings that up to 96%, Cook said. Areas not covered are scattered throughout the city, including some parts of Peaks and Big and Little Diamond Islands, East Deering, and Riverton.

“In Portland, we have a very high rate of access, so this will bump that number up and give access to a neighborhood that does not currently have access to a park,” Hipple said.

“Portland continues to evolve, and it has become more dense, so who knows what this neighborhood will look like in a hundred, 50, or 20 years,” he said. “I think it’s really important to look at green space and make sure it’s spread equitably around the city.”



The city could make some changes, depending on the results of an upcoming public meeting.

The Portland Parks Conservancy, a nonprofit that helped raise money to buy the park, is planning to host a community meeting this summer or fall to ask residents what they’d like to see.

“As we talk to the public about what they might want to see there, I’m really interested in their thoughts and concerns, but I don’t think we’ll make many changes,” said Nan Cumming, executive director of the Portland Parks Conservancy.

The new park in North Deering will feature a sledding hill. Cullen McIntyre/Staff Photographer

Cumming expects most of the renovations will be minimal, like improving signage, creating more trails and fixing the ballpark.

Before the city purchased the land, its fate was uncertain, she said.

“Now it’s going to be kept in public hands, and I think that’s really something to cheer for,” Cumming said.


The park is near Lyseth Elementary School and Lyman Moore Middle School, which allows for outdoor learning opportunities for students, the statement said.

It has pedestrian access on Washington Avenue, near a few bus stops. Informal trails also will connect the park to Auburn Street.

The property’s potential is evident, Cook said, pointing to the sports field and hill where people sled in the winter.

“It’s easy to see history and future as it’s in this interim phase,” she said. “There are some awesome assets that have started to deteriorate,” but the city can now step in to preserve and enhance the features of the park.

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