Volunteers begin preparing Clifford Park for possible upgrade

Pat Farrin and his crew begin leveling out backlot for future expansion
Mon, 10/07/2019 - 8:30am

Some people would move heaven and Earth for a good cause. In Boothbay, Pat Farrin simply moves earth. Last week, Farrin and his construction company, Pat Farrin & Sons, began work on a project planned for decades. For years, construction companies dumped leftover fill on Clifford Park’s back lot with the intention some day, it would be transformed into another ball field. And for years, Farrin and Boothbay resident Tommy Nickerson encouraged municipal leaders to begin transforming the donated fill into a ball field.

On Sept. 30, Farrin & Sons began spreading the fill along Clifford’s back lot. So after 30 years of talking about expanding Clifford Park, volunteers took a step toward making it a reality. For Farrin and Nickerson, now seemed like the right time to start. Boothbay is applying for up to $500,000 for a federal Land and Water grant to upgrade Clifford Park, located off Back River Road. 

“We have a donor willing to match dollar for dollar up to $250,000. We have contractors lined up willing to donate their services, so now seemed like as good as any time,” Nickerson said. Last month,  Boothbay decided to seek the federal grant which required a local match. The town has received two such grants in recent years. Three years ago, a similar plan to renovate Clifford Park stalled after municipal leaders learned the town couldn’t use tax increment funds for a park upgrade. 

But a local businessman’s willingness to lend a helping hand provided the impetus to seek a federal grant. Paul Coulombe offered to provide up to $250,000 as the town’s required match. Once word spread the town was seeking federal funds, volunteers, like Farrin and Nickerson, began discussing what other community members could do. Three decades ago, Harold Clifford’s family donated the park to the town. And in 2019, other volunteers, including the Clifford family, intend to contribute to the expansion. “It’s the goodness of people who want to make the community better,” Farrin said. “The park was donated 30 years ago by the Clifford family. They’ve been in contact with me to make another donation. I’m sure there are others who also will contribute or donate, and they should contact the town office.” 

The park is near a wetland which leaves Adams Pond vulnerable to soil erosion and contamination. The local code enforcement office and Boothbay Region Water District are both monitoring the project. “We’re here to hold the line on sediment,” said Watershed Protection Manager Sue Mello. “It’s close to the watershed, but they are minimizing the exposure by laying down hay over the bare soil. This will grow grass which helps slow down any possible runoff or erosion.”

Kipp Farrin believes his father and Nickerson are the driving forces in the ongoing community effort to prepare Clifford Park for expansion. “They’ve been after the town for three or four years to start this,” he said. “They both have a lot of pride in the town and park. This has been a long time coming and they’ve continued to push this forward.”

Nickerson expects other contractors and residents will likely offer their volunteer services in the next few days.