BREWER, Maine — Cornelius Dougherty was born in Ireland in 1796 and moved to Brewer in 1848, bringing his wife and children to the area to start a new life.
His descendants sold an 8.18-acre parcel of their land to the city more than half a century ago with the caveat that it be used for the benefit of children. Washington Street School was built on the parcel, but after six decades it was closed two years ago when the Brewer Community School was built.
Since the deed said the parcel had to be used for children, city leaders left it in the hands of Ken Hanscom, parks and recreation director, who worked with the city’s economic development team to find funding to create a park for children, and adults, to enjoy.
The old Washington Street School was removed and the Dougherty Recreational Complex will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Friday.
“The land donor was my great grandfather, my grandfather was raised on the property, and my father attended the Washington Street School along with many of his cousins,” Allyson Dougherty-Kill, of Glenburn, said recently.
Her great grandfather, Louis W. Dougherty, and his brother Hugh F. Dougherty, operated Dougherty Brothers Dairy Farm on Chamberlain Street. They took over the family-run dairy in May 1927 and delivered milk to residents through the mid-1940s.
“The back seven acres that was the original brick yard was sold to the City of Brewer in 1949 for a dollar to be used for the children of the city of Brewer,” Dougherty-Kill said. “The Washington Street School was built on that site in 1953.”
Four generations of the Dougherty family plan to attend Friday’s dedication, she said.
“We still have a family member in the original house on Chamberlain Street,” Dougherty-Kill said.
The park, located at 100 Washington St., is still under construction, Hanscom said.
“The recreational complex will include renovations to three existing baseball fields, as well as construction of a ⅓-mile paved walking trail, a multi-purpose athletic field, a new playground, parking lot, and installation of many other amenities,” he said.
Two major supporters — a $148,000 grant from the National Park Service and a $175,000 contribution from Eastern Maine Heathcare Systems — are helping to make the project possible, City Manager Steve Bost said Thursday.
“[EMHS] has made a significant monetary contribution to this project,” Bost said. “This is the result of negotiations between the city and EMHS dating back to when the Cianchette building was removed from the tax rolls. This was their effort, in the end, to provide some relief.”
M. Michelle Hood, president and CEO of EMHS, said the funding is an investment in the community.
“The EMHS mission establishes our purpose to advance community well-being, and this project is an excellent example of investing in resources to promote healthy lifestyles,” she said in a statement.
The National Park Service funding is a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that requires matching funds, Bost said, some of which will be offset with groundwork done by the city’s public work crews.
The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014.