Friday, September 29, 2023

Grant helps Windham create new picnic area

By Nicole Levine

A picnic may very well be a metaphor for life, and if that’s true, Windham residents are about to enjoy a new favorite picnic spot close to home.

A Community Challenge Grant from AARP has helped
the Town of Windham create a new picnic table area at 
Community Park on Gray Road. Once finished, the site
will have a stone dust foundation and path from the 
parking lot to the park pavilion and picnic area.
Thanks to a Community Challenge Grant from AARP, the Town of Windham is creating a new picnic area which will be available starting this fall. AARP’s Community Challenge Program was launched a decade ago to provide small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages and create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks, and access to other amenities.

Windham is one of 14 recipients of the Community Challenge Grant for 2023 and funding will be administered through the Windham Parks and Recreation Department. A new shaded picnic addition will be added to the existing Windham Community Park, adjacent to the Windham Public Safety Building on Route 202.

The new picnic table area will be located under the Community Park’s pavilion between the basketball and volleyball courts. The picnic pavilion was built last year by a group of volunteers who are associated with the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing and PowerServe.

According to Windham Parks and Recreation Department Director Linda Brooks, the town is also hoping to include a self-guided walking trail at the park, which will be specifically designed to be accessible for older adults.

Brooks said that the town’s Parks Maintenance Foreman will be collaborating with Windham Public Works to prepare a stone dust surface to go under the pavilion, and a stone dust path which leads from the parking lot toward the picnic area. There will also be three ADA compliant picnic tables installed under the pavilion at the park later in the summer.

Construction for this project will take place throughout the summer, and there will be a grand opening barbecue held at the park in the early fall.

The Windham Parks and Recreation Director, Linda Brooks, originally applied for this grant as a way to act upon recommendations that were raised in the Age Friendly Windham Action Plan. The AARP Community Challenge Grant will provide residents of the Town of Windham with the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, in a community driven environment.

“We were quite pleased that our project stood out among the 3,600-plus applications nationwide, and we were among 310 projects that received funding,” Brooks said. “This project is intended to increase social connections between older adults and all residents of the community and provide permanent physical improvements and amenities in our outdoor public spaces, encouraging increased visits to these locations.”

“Once the project is completed, members of the public will also be able to rent out the pavilion for birthday parties and other events, much like the Windham Parks and Recreation Department currently offers at both Dundee Park and Donnabeth Lippman Park, Brooks said.

The AARP Community Challenge Grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which helps cities, towns, villages, and rural areas in all 50 states become great places to live for residents of all ages. The overall goal of the program focuses on providing adults over the age of 50 with accessible ways to spend time outdoors and is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages.

Since the program's debut in 2017, AARP has awarded $12.7 million through more than 1,060 grants in nearly 700 communities reaching 100 million people. The projects have been completed across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“AARP Maine is committed to working with local communities and their leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” says Noël Bonam, the AARP Maine State Director. <

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