$50,000 donation aimed at Riverfront Park and multi-use trail

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Town councilors accepted a sizeable donation on Nov. 13 that will be used to enhance the community’s newest park.

During a brief meeting, councilors accepted a $50,000 donation from the Putnam Charitable Trust to be used to buy land at 3 Lincoln Street, which is adjacent to Riverfront Park. Cathy O’Leary, town clerk and interim town manager, said Friday that the money will allow for a lengthy expansion of the multi-use trail in the park.

The Putnam Charitable Trust is a private independent foundation. In October 2017, the trust offered the former Putnam House, located on North Street, at no cost to a group of organizers hoping to bring a recreational senior center to the area. After the building proved too difficult to bring up to code, however, officials opened the center instead at 48 Court St., a building owned by Gary Hagan.

Hagan, who volunteers for the trust and developed the multi-use trail, said Friday that he calls it the “Putnam Trail,” although it has yet to be officially named. He said that once completed, the new trail will connect to the existing Riverside Trail where that path ends at the Highland Avenue bridge.

The round trip length from the North Street Bridge is 3 miles, according to Hagan. The new loop trail will take pedestrians up toward Interstate 95 and loop back around to Riverfront Park.

Riverfront Park centers on Gateway Crossing, the pedestrian footbridge that stretches from the North Street Bridge across the Meduxnekeag River. The Riverfront Committee, which was formed to develop and raise money for the park, has partnered with the town to secure grants to finance some projects in the park, but private fundraising has been the driving force behind its creation. The committee spent five years raising the $1 million needed to build the 187-foot bridge.

Hagan said he believes people will enjoy the new path.

“It is a really nice walk, especially the section along the river,” he said Friday. “The trust deserves the credit for recognizing the value of this trail to Houlton’s residents and visitors.”