Portland Secures Largest Addition to Park System in a Generation
The City of Portland, in partnership with Trust for Public Land, has announced the acquisition of 24 acres of land, creating a new city-owned park.
“With the creation of North Deering Park, Portland is one step closer to joining the few cities in America where 100% of residents have a park within a 10-minute walk of home,” said Betsy Cook, Maine State Director for Trust for Public Land. “Protecting this land will ensure the community will have access to bike, walk, hike, play, and explore the outdoors in their own backyard.”
Trust for Public Land (TPL) has been working with the City of Portland for the past three years to develop and implement the project and to secure the funds to successfully transfer the land to the City.
While 94% of Portland residents live within a 10-minute walk to a green space, nearly 1,000 residents in the North Deering neighborhood don’t have this close-to-home access to a high-quality park – a gap that the City of Portland is committed to addressing. Protecting this acreage is critically important to closing the park equity gap in Portland and providing residents space to connect with the outdoors.
“This acquisition is a big deal for the City of Portland,” said Portland Parks Director Ethan Hipple. “Our current park system was created well over 120 years ago, and we can thank our predecessors for setting aside public land to be used for recreation, exercise, sports, habitat preservation, and to connect us to nature. With the addition of this new park in an underserved area, Portlanders of all backgrounds now have a new space to come together to create community and lasting memories for generations to come.
The park has an existing sports field, pond, forested areas, and well-loved informal trails. Protecting this land also keeps intact the home of urban wildlife in a densely populated area and helps mitigate the impacts of climate change. Parks—especially those that are densely wooded and deep green—can counter urban temperatures exacerbated by heat-trapping buildings, pavement, and concrete.
North Deering Park is within close proximity to Lyseth Elementary School and Lyman Moore Middle School, opening up opportunities for outdoor learning and offering a public place where children can explore the natural world.
Last year, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, allocated a total of $61.1 million in grant funding to communities in 26 cities across the United States to create new parks and trails, or substantial renovations to existing parks through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program. The North Deering Park project received $400,000 in funding through the ORLP Program, which is the first time ORLP has been successfully utilized in Maine. Funding for ORLP comes through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a longstanding federal conservation program that faced uncertain annual appropriations until 2020, when Maine’s congressional delegation helped to secure permanent, dedicated LWCF funding for projects like North Deering Park.
“As Mainers, we know having access to the outdoors helps people lead happy and healthy lives. That’s why we worked on the Great American Outdoors Act to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, ensuring our public lands are protected and our communities can enjoy the spaces in which they live,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “This federal funding will significantly advance the goal of putting a park within a 10-minute walk for everyone in Portland —promoting outdoor recreation, exploration, learning, and ultimately, improving quality of life. We are thrilled to see this new park come to life and look forward to Maine people enjoying it for generations to come.”
In addition to funding from ORLP, the acquisition and related project costs were covered through a $160,123 grant from the Land for Maine’s Future Program, an $80,000 commitment from the Portland Land Bank, and a private fundraising campaign led by TPL and Portland Parks Conservancy (PPC).
TPL and PPC are continuing to raise funds to support North Deering Park, including future planning, design, and maintenance for the park.
“The Portland Parks Conservancy is delighted to be part of this important project,” said Nan Cumming, Executive Director for the Portland Parks Conservancy. “Our next step is to engage the community in a visioning process where they can let us know the activities and facilities they would like in their new park! Then we’ll be ready to raise the additional funds needed to realize those dreams.”
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.