Dave Allen and Shawn Jalbert spill water through a newly installed stone trough
at the refurbished Springvale spring.
Photo: Lee Burnett
By Lee Burnett, Submissions editor
The spring that gave Springvale its name is inspiring efforts to enhance it and the wooded park surrounding it.
A stone artist with rustic sensibilities has restored the spring’s dilapidated stonework, added stone block seating and improved the aesthetics of the site off Bridge Street. Water now sluices out of a polished stone trough and splashes onto a terrace of granite planks. In addition, a native plant landscaper has planted shrubs, ferns and perennial flowers on the wooded slope surrounding the spring. More work is planned in the spring and beyond.
“The granite spring looks great,” wrote Sam Sevigny, whose family is spearheading the rejuvenation of the wooded park and island between Spring Water Apartments, owned by the Sevigny family, and Village View Apartments, owned by Sanford Housing Authority.
The spring itself will remain closed to drinking, despite the refurbishments. It had served as one of the community’s primary sources of drinking water right up until water companies were formed in the late 19th century. It continued as a place for individuals to fill up water jugs until about 15 years ago, when high coliform bacteria counts prompted the city to close the spring to drinking.
Improving the aesthetics and accessibility of the park has long been a goal of the Sevigny family. In recent decades, facilities built during the urban renewal era of the 1970s have fallen into disrepair. As a first step, Lionel Sevigny bought the city-owned 1.5-acre island in the Mousam River and attached a public access easement to the property. The Sanford Housing Authority learned about rejuvenation plans and volunteered to serve as fiscal sponsor for grant applications. The Emery Trust for the Beautification of Sanford Springvale awarded $27,800 to the spring restoration earlier this year. Granite from the foundation of an old Town Farm barn was donated by the McAdam family (McDougal Orchards).
“This will only be the first step to making this site a walking destination,” Lionel Sevigny wrote. An engineering company is now developing specifications to replace a footbridge with a handicapped-accessible bridge and graded trail. Eventually, lighting may be added to the trail.
The stonework was done by Dave Allen of Stone Point Studio in Sebago. He said he wanted to dress up the stonework, which was in “pretty bad shape,” while also being mindful of its history.
“I wanted to refurbish it, without making it look too overly refined, but then still have some added artistic representation which was our little spout here, the little spillway,” he said.
The plantings were designed and planned by Shawn Jalbert of Native Haunts in Alfred. He said he chose shrubs, ferns and perennial flowers that would thrive in shady, wet conditions, while also providing visual appeal and nectar for pollinators.
“I envision it will be both aesthetically pleasing and valuable to humans, but also it being really ecologically functional as well,” Jalbert said. “At some point, this area will be fairly well planted with perennials that will bloom throughout the season. It will be a destination for folks to come see, but kind of at the same time almost sneaking in there the value of pollinator friendly plants.”
The origin story of the namesake spring dates from the dedication of Sanford’s first manufacturing plant in 1829. A group of dignitaries had gathered at the spring immediately below the plant to hear prayers and momentous words. Someone suggested the village needed a name.
Rev. Timothy Greenhalgh stepped up. “Here is the spring at our feet and here is the vale, stretching out on either hand of us. We will call it Springvale.”
Those words attributed to Greenhalgh in History of York County, Maine, published in 1880, may or may not be true, according to Paul Auger, Sanford High School history teacher and board member of Sanford Springvale Historical Society. He said Greenhalgh’s words were related secondhand by someone who would have been five years old in 1829.