Portland’s New Bayside Trail Celebrated (ME)

Portland, Maine: On Saturday, Portlanders didn’t have to drive deep into the woods to celebrate National Trails Day. Instead, dozens of people gathered to celebrate the event at the site of what will soon be Maine’s newest urban greenway: a recreational trail in the heart of the Bayside neighborhood.

Nearly 100 people donned work gloves and sunscreen to clear away debris from the former railway corridor that will become the new Bayside Trail. Afterwards, they celebrated at the future park site with live music by SoPo Trio, pizza donated by Portland Pie Company, ice cream donated by Maple’s Organics, vendors, raffles, face painting, and games.

The planning for the trail began in 1999 with neighborhood associations and the City of Portland envisioning a trail to link the Eastern Prom and Deering Oaks Park. Since 2004, the Trust for Public Land, Portland Trails, the Bayside Neighborhood Association, and many others have been working with the City of Portland to make that dream real. Today, these partners joined with local businesses – Planet Dog and Diversified Communications – in welcoming the public to the trail for the first time and celebrating what will become Portland’s newest open space. The clean-up and clearing of the trail in the morning was followed by a free party sponsored by Planet Dog on the site of the future greenway.

Alex Jaegerman, Planning Director for the City of Portland, said, “This is an historic event, to finally connect the Eastern Prom with Deering Oaks as envisioned one hundred years ago by James P. Baxter in the Olmsted Plan for the Park System. This trail with bring residents and workers into Bayside as it continues to develop.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that first partnered with Portland Trails and the City of Portland in 1993 to convert another rail line into a popular recreational trail – the Eastern Promenade. TPL is managing the design and construction on this new stretch of trail and greenway and will be again working closely with Portland Trails and the City. “It was thrilling to see the future users of this new trail working hard to prepare for construction,” said Sam Hodder, TPL’s State Director. “In under two years, this former railroad corridor will be a 1.2-mile downtown greenway for walking, running, dog-walking, and biking.”

Planet Dog, a store for dog and cat lovers adjacent to the future trail, is a corporate sponsor of the project to create the Bayside Trail. According to Alex Fisher, the company’s founder and chief designer, “We couldn’t think of a better place to be on National Trails Day than on the site of what will eventually be a world class trail for the people of the Portland area. It’s just the type of eco-friendly community-based project that Planet Dog loves to be a part of.”

Diversified Communications, also a corporate sponsor, is a privately held, Maine family-owned business with its headquarters in Portland. It operates on four continents in the broadcasting, exhibition, publishing and emerging-media industries. Many of Diversified’s 150 Portland-based employees are avid users of the local trail systems.

“We are very pleased to give substantial support to this project,” commented Horace Hildreth, Diversified’s board chairman, “because it will transform a neglected area, and make the City an even more attractive and livable place.”

Portland Trails led the volunteers for the first working walk on the newly cleared trail. Nan Cumming, Director of Portland Trails, said, “The Bayside Trail Project will change the face of the city by turning a former industrial area into a vibrant urban greenway. This is one of the most important and exciting projects we’ve worked on.”

The City of Portland is working with The Trust for Pubic Land, Portland Trails, and the Bayside, East Bayside and Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Associations to redevelop a former railroad corridor in the Bayside neighborhood into a world-class greenway which will connect the Eastern Promenade and Deering Oaks Park. More About the Portland Bayside Promenade Project.