BELFAST, Maine — More than 100 years ago, the ladies of the Belfast Improvement Society decided their city needed a park and set out with vigor to create one.
Today, the fruit of their labor — Belfast City Park — is a wide swath of lawn, ball courts and trees that slope down to the shores of Penobscot Bay. It features a swimming pool, a walking trail, picnic tables and an elaborate playground. But one thing has been missing, according to Desneige Hallbert, a landscape designer and project coordinator with the Belfast Parks and Recreation Department.
“We wanted a grand entrance for a grand park,” she said Wednesday.
Currently, after park visitors drive, walk or pedal through the decorative wrought-iron gates, they are met by a flagpole, a rock dedicated to veterans and a cluster of nondescript shrubbery. It’s a place that people seem more likely than not to pass by without stopping on their way into the park. In Hallbert’s vision, that will change. The dedication rock and flagpole would be moved to the center of a new circular stone patio, surrounded by granite benches and interpretation signs with information about the park’s history and its arboretum.
Behind the patio, shallow granite amphitheatre steps would lead downhill and provide a space for visitors to sit and watch a baseball game.
The $20,000 or so it would take to complete the project — approved by Belfast City Councilors at last week’s regular meeting — would come from the Menig Trust. The trust was left to the city for the beautification of the park by a man who “really loved it,” Hallbert said. There is some urgency about using trust funds because the trustee is getting ready to retire and wants all the money to be used soon, she said. City officials are putting the work out to bid soon and expect it to be completed this fall.
Hallbert, a Belfast native who recently returned home, said working on the park entrance project has been a pleasure.
“It’s been really neat to grow up in this town and come back and learn about the history of the park. I had no idea it was so historic,” she said. “It deserves a spectacular entrance. It’s a spectacular park.”