It happened in Windham: The town builds a park

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In 1965, the Planning Board began a study of the possibility of a waterfront park. For many years, there was a shrinking of shore frontage for public use due to the sale of said property by longtime citizens to those who wanted to live in Windham near the water. The town of Windham was not in the land-acquiring business and land was not reserved for public recreational use.

Finding available property was a big problem. What land there was available was extremely expensive and sellers did not want to reduce the price for the town’s purchase.

S.D. Warren, the Westbrook paper manufacturer, owned land on upper Dundee Pond, and George Olmsted, the president of S D. Warren, offered to donate it if “practical park development plans” could be worked out.

Many organizations and individuals offered to help, including the town of Windham road commissioner, high school vocational trades program, Maine Parks and Recreation Commission, University of Maine Recreation Advisor, the Men’s Correctional Center and the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension Service.

At the 1966 town meeting, a Park and Conservation Commission was named and they began detailed plans. On June 7 that year, S.D. Warren approved the sale of the land, appraised at $31,000, to the town for $1. Central Maine Power granted use of some adjoining land, and Kenneth Hawkes, an abutter, donated an additional small plot.

The town obtained “matching” federal funds of $31,000 and work began. Residents who owned “heavy equipment” donated their time and use of their equipment; dozens of residents donated their expertise in getting this project completed – a perfect example of what can be accomplished when people work together.

Today, 2016, Dundee Park is the town’s hidden gem. A beautiful beach, created many years ago by dedicated volunteers, with swimming, boating, picnic areas, fishing and games – everything a town needs to have as a perfect getaway!

Thank the volunteers of 50 years ago.