Update: The Historic Preservation Board has rescheduled the final public hearing on the Fort Allen Park Rehabilitation Project to 7 pm Wednesday, April 25. The meeting was originally scheduled for April 18, but was changed due to a lack of a quorum for that date.
The revised concept plan (right) will be presented at the April 25 hearing. The new plan considers comments from the public, community groups, the Historic Preservation Board, City of Portland Planning Department and Friends of the Eastern Promenade's Board of Directors.
- Fewer trees along the interior pathways, resulting in increased spacing between trees (44 feet vs. 35 feet apart).
- A slight realignment of the walkway on the west side of the park drive to provide greater separation between the drive and walkway, easing maintenance concerns.
- The addition of a granite curb on the outer edge of the park drive to prevent cars from parking on the lawn.
- The possible use of concrete (instead of stone dust) on the paths connecting the overlook to the memorials.
- The addition of two shade trees near the Fort Allen Trail entrance to replace two Norway maple trees (one has been removed and another is slated for removal). The species proposed for this location is the Liberty Elm.
Friends of the Eastern Promenade is sponsoring the project, working with landscape architects Martha Lyon and Regina Leonard, the Historic Preservation Board and staff from the City of Portland. The April 25 hearing is the culmination of historic research, design development and public process providing feedback from throughout the community.
The Historic Preservation Board held three public workshops offering guidance on the design of the park and receiving public input. In addition, Friends of the Eastern Promenade sponsored a March 8 public meeting on the project, which was attended by about 75 people. The Parks Commission also reviewed the project at its March meeting.
While most of the plan has been well received – including the central walkway, pathways, redesigned overlook and realigned carriage drive – the majority of public comment has centered on trees. Nearby residents have expressed concerns about trees blocking views. Others approve of the tree plan, which has evolved and compromised over time to balance view considerations with historically appropriate landscape character. Some oppose removal of the evergreens, feeling that they should live out their useful life or at least remain until new plantings are established. Many comments call for additional landscaping as a buffer between the park and the Portland House condominium building.
Fort Allen Park, located at the southeastern end of the Eastern Promenade, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 4.5-acre park is a prominent gathering place for folks to enjoy views of the Portland harbor and Casco Bay, its iconic bandstand and its two Civil War-era cannons, which rest on the remains of the original earthen berm of Fort Allen. The park is also home to several monuments, including the USS Portland, the USS Maine and the 9/11 monuments.