Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dundee Park offers respite from heat By Leah Hoenen

A breeze off the Presumpscot River cools the air along Dundee Park’s sand beach as birds sing and the sun rises. The quiet is briefly broken by a happy announcement: “Mom, I caught a fish!”

The mid-summer heat builds and park staff prepare for the day by raking the beach and volleyball court, collecting bits of trash, cleaning grill grates and tables and picking up after geese. Park manager Ron Faucher stops for a moment to describe the park. “It’s a real gem,” he says. A hidden one, as well. Faucher says many visitors tell him they’ve lived in Windham for years without knowing the park is here.

On Presumpscot Road, Dundee Park lies along a quiet stretch of the river, shaded by trees and offering shallow-water swimming along a guarded beach, rental canoes and paddle boats, basketball and volleyball courts and plenty of shaded picnic tables.

The town recently added a handicapped-accessible ramp to the park’s building, said Brian Ross, Parks and Recreation Director for Windham. The town has owned the park since the mid-1970s, said Ross, and it is a popular destination for fishing, swimming and boating.

Mona Dodd has been live-in manager for 17 years. She tells Ross that the day before, a very warm Sunday, Dundee Park saw 569 visitors. Having staff live on site helps keep the property safe from vandals at night, she said.

The 20-acre park averages 300 to 400 visitors a day on good summer days, said Ross, and welcomes visitors from day camps across the area. There are several grill grates at the park, and people are welcome to bring small gas grills, as well, he said

Dundee Park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offers bathrooms and a beverage vending machine. Day and seasonal passes are available for residents and non-residents. Day passes are $4 for residents and $5 for non-residents. Seasonal passes are $45 for residents and $60 for non-residents with discounts offered for children, seniors and active-duty military personnel.

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