Houlton’s million-dollar park dedicated

Elna Seabrooks , Special to The County
15 years ago
    HOULTON, Maine — A ten-foot high, 2,000-pound bronze moose sculpture stood elegantly in Riverfront Park dwarfing visitors, residents and dignitaries — all assembled for the transformed park’s formal dedication July 3. Despite the gray skies and occasional light mist, some 50 adults with several children in tow marveled at the beautifully landscaped area that had been practically an eyesore until private donors took the initiative 10 years ago to begin the process of creating a calm oasis with tables and sheltered seating adjacent to the Gateway Bridge.

    Robert Anderson, chairman of the Meduxnekeag Riverfront Park Development Committee says a combination of money from private benefactors along with state funding and grants brings the value of the park close to the $1.5 million mark. Houlton’s investment in the project, according to Town Manager, Douglas Hazlett, was for bridge lighting — around $20,000.
The town is leasing the statue for just one dollar a year over the next three years from the owners — artists Glenn and Diane Hines. She says “it’s great” seeing their work in the park. And, she recalled with vivid gestures “the hardest part of making the mold was underneath because we didn’t want the underside of the sculpture to fall down from gravity.” Her husband said getting the life-size statue in a trailer a few years ago to transport it to Maine from Wyoming where the sculpture was cast “was quite a spectacle.”
Whatever it took to get it to Maine, many are grateful. Sharon Boutilier, a resident who attended the dedication, said the sculpture “is a great attraction that represents Maine very much.” Town Councilor Sue Tortello referred to it as “absolutely a beautiful work of art that could almost step off that concrete block and come over and say ‘hello’.”
The night before the dedication, the Costello family of Monroe, N.C., who had returned to Houlton for a vacation along with best friends the St. Peter family of Corinth, were in the park. Their children could not resist touching the realistic-looking bronze moose that was so realistic, they pointed to such details as the veins and the hair in addition to the size. Young Caleb Costello said he had to touch the moose because of the way “they made the fur look. It’s amazing!”
The two families also commented on how beautiful the park was on that sunny Thursday afternoon as they explored the landscaped areas, picnic tables and pathways. Maria Costello said she had read in the Pioneer Times that the moose sculpture would be installed and wanted to see it. Her reaction: “Awesome, amazing, the epitome of Maine.”