Community comes together to expand Sangerville Veterans Memorial Park

SANGERVILLE — Numerous volunteers and many donations of funds, materials and hours have gone into an expansion project at the Sangerville Veterans Memorial Park on Route 23. The efforts have created a new all-purpose field and a gazebo under construction, and will help make the property a site to be enjoyed by all ages.

Resident Jason Higgins, who has been one of the leaders of the park project, said in 2014 the town purchased the Wells Farm adjacent to the existing Veterans Memorial Recreational Field — which includes playing areas for soccer and baseball and softball, a basketball court and playground. “This whole thing here was a big tree jungle,” Higgins said, indicating the area that is now the new playing field and the site of the gazebo which is scheduled to be erected later in the month in time for a community concert and cookout on Saturday, Sept. 23.

He said the property acquisition brought the park size to about 30 acres, nearly split evenly on both sides of the boat access road leading to Manhanock Pond. Sangerville has additional frontage on the pond by acquiring the property and since 2014 the community has used some of the new land to meet a need for more parking.

Several years ago the Sangerville rec committee began thinking about other uses for the expanded green space. “The goal was to make a park not just for youth but really for the whole town,” Higgins said. He said a gazebo was one idea as the structure “is something that could bring the town together in the summer” with concerts and a large nearby seating area.

Work on the playing field and gazebo sites began in 2015 as crews from the Charleston Correctional Facility removed the brush and trees. Higgins said in 2016 with the help of a $1,500 Pirate Rec donation leftover stumps — Higgins said some of these were larger than cars — were cleared so a 150- by 240-foot multipurpose field could be constructed. In the last year-plus the area was leveled and graded and much of the still roped-off surface now has green grass.

“We probably have close to $100,000 in money raised and in-kind donations,” Higgins said. “A lot of businesses and volunteers coming together,” such as contractors donating their time and use of equipment and residents giving of their time whenever possible.

He said various age groups have helped on the park project, with much of the work taking place on weekends. Higgins said a retired resident drove the bulldozer “and I think he’s taken a lot of pride in that.” Other senior citizens have contributed and Higgins said, “It’s really given them a sense of ownership as a place for the community.”

Young baseball and softball and soccer players picked rocks to contribute as well. “Part of it was the ownership so the kids could say ‘I took part.’”

“There’s been a whole bunch of different people doing a lot of different thing,” Higgins said.

The new playing area will be used as a practice facility for soccer in the fall and baseball and softball in the spring as well as other activities. Higgins said in the fall scheduling has been a challenge in order to give each youth team time before the sun sets and the new field provides greater flexibility.

“We are going to keep it open and not have a baseball diamond but a green space,” he said.

“It should be a good centerpiece of Sangerville,” Higgins said. He said a future project eyed for the site is a half mile loop trail, which could be ideal to help older residents get out of their homes and exercise on. A disc golf course may also be added on site.

“It’s really going to be a launching point for a lot of activities,” Higgins said. He said residents from across the region come to Sangerville for various youth sporting events, and they too will be able to utilize the expanded Sangerville Veterans Memorial Park. Higgins said about 5,000 players and their family members visit the property annually and the goal is to grow this number.

The gazebo is another component of the project and work on the structure is scheduled to be finished in time for the community concert and kickoff from 4-6 p.m. on Sept. 23. Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union will sponsor the event featuring a performance by the Sangerville-based Doughy Hill Band.

Higgins said about $14,000 in funds left over from Sangerville’s Bicentennial celebration in 2014 was approved by residents for use on the gazebo. “Everything else was raised or was in-kind donations,” he said.

“With a project this size the rec committee is the most important part,” Town Manager Lois Jones said in thanking the group for all its efforts. “If you don’t have a rec committee that works you won’t have a place for the community to come together.”

Jones said in the future bathhouses and/or permanent restrooms may be built on site, and existing septic and water systems could be used from the Wells Farm.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
EXPANDED SANGERVILLE VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK — A multi-purpose field is a large component of an expansion project for the Sangerville Veterans Memorial Park. The green space will provide more practice opportunities for youth soccer and baseball and softball teams, and the field has come to fruition through the efforts of many volunteers throughout the community.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
GAZEBO SITE — A gazebo will be built as part of the expansion of the Sangerville Veterans Memorial Park to help make the property a place to be used by all ages. A community cookout and concert is set for 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 to celebrate the opening of the park additions, and Sangerville’s own Doughty Hill Band is set to be the first act to perform at the new gazebo.

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