Willard Neighborhood

Needs & Assets Assessment

February 2003



During the latter half of 2002 the Willard Beach Master Plan Committee conducted a neighborhood survey polling residents on what they like, dislike, or would like to see different in their neighborhood.  Of the 900 surveys mailed, 390 (43%) were returned.  Of those who responded, 261 had lived or done business in the neighborhood for more than five years. 


The twenty-two-question survey asked for input in a number of areas that included needs/wants of the neighborhood, Willard Beach and housing.  When asked what public improvements are needed within the neighborhood an overwhelming response was given to heavy item pickup (192 votes) and retaining dead-end streets (150).  Other popular items included beach beautification (120), sidewalk and crosswalk installation (117), a roundabout in Willard Square (99), more open space (92), and more street trees (91).  Favorable economic opportunities for the neighborhood included a mom & pop store (191), a coffee shop (164), and ice cream shop (127), all in Willard Square, and boat and kayak rentals (130).  Water-related, environmentally sound development was favored, with aquaculture, clamming and seaweed harvesting being popular waterfront activities.


Throughout the survey, many respondents mentioned that they enjoyed the cultural diversity of the neighborhood and wanted to promote this.  When asked what types of uses could be brought into the neighborhood, many asked for cultural events at Fisherman’s Point (146), more neighborhood playgrounds (124), the implementation of public art and sculpture (113), and the defining of a neighborhood center (102).


A big part of the Willard Neighborhood is Willard Beach, which offers scenic beauty and public access not only to neighborhood residents but also those from afar.  Though many use the beach daily throughout the year, the committee found that 58% or 207 out of 353 polled use the beach at least twice a week, while 16% use the beach at least once a week.  During the non-summer months, the percentage drops to 44% or 154 for at least twice a week and 16% for once a week. 


Over the last few years, maintenance of the beach has been an on-going concern of many of the neighborhood residents.  When polled, only 9%, 30 out of 342 respondents, considered the beach to be very well maintained.  The majority of respondents felt that the beach was adequately maintained.  These were similar responses to the survey question about maintenance of the stairs and walkways at the beach.  When asked about available parking for the beach, of the 312 who responded, 207 or 66% thought that an adequate amount of parking was available for beach users.


Over the last two years, housing has emerged as a top concern within the Willard Neighborhood. Recent events (including a subdivision on Willow Street, the inflated prices of real estate, and the recent revaluation of the neighborhood properties by the city) have resulted in concerns regarding density and affordability.  When asked whether the housing prices promote a mixed income population, the neighborhood was split, with 33% feeling that not enough affordable homes are in the neighborhood, while 31% felt that the neighborhood had a sufficient number.  One hundred and five or 35% polled were not sure whether the neighborhood had enough housing to promote a mixed income population.  Of the 324 who responded, 292 or 90% believed that dense developments were not desirable in the neighborhood.  When asked whether the neighborhood could support more apartments, single family homes or cluster developments, 28%, or 108 answered positively.  When asked whether height restrictions or regulations to preserve views were desirable, 72% or 281 of the 389 responded favorably.  Overall, 97% felt as though Willard was a safe neighborhood to live in.  


Willard is an old densely populated neighborhood whose house lots tend to be some of the smallest and most unique in the city. The need for open space and preservation of buffers is paramount.  With the exception of Small School, SMCC, and Willard Beach, the neighborhood has very little public open space available, especially wooded parcels.  The remaining undeveloped areas are of great concern to the neighborhood.  When asked whether the neighborhood would support the purchase of open space funded without reliance on city taxes, the majority supported the idea by a response of 179 to 91.


In summary, a large majority of respondents appreciates and enjoys the benefits of the Willard Neighborhood. Many of the respondents agreed that economic growth should take place in the neighborhood’s existing infrastructure, and new growth is not desirable.  Many of the neighborhood residents are satisfied with existing city services, but feel that public infrastructure within the neighborhood could be enhanced through the city’s capital improvement budget. 





Single Family









Four Family



Five Family



Six Family



Seven Family



Eight Family Plus






Commercial Property



City Owned Property



State/US Govt. Owned Property



Private Non-Profit Owned Property



Vacant Land



Hose Co.

(Volunteer Fire Dept.)





Mix of housing types

Single family




Student housing/Dorm


Parks/Recreation/Open Space

Spring Point Shoreway Trail                                                      

Fisherman’s Point

Willard Beach                                                                          

SMCC ballfields

Willard School Park at Pillsbury/Cottage

Port Harbor Marina


Public Safety

Willard Hose Company #2 (Volunteer Fire Co.)

Police patrols


Family services and education

The Cottage Rd Neighborhood School for the Arts                     

Small School

Southern Maine Community College

Cape Shore Assembly of God


Historic value and preservation

Cemetery (Smith Street)           

Old Settlers Cemetery at SMCC           

Spring Point Ledge Light Trust (Spring Point Light)

Fishing shacks at Fisherman’s Point


Neighborhood Livability

Tree lined streets                                                                      


Good neighbors                                                            



SMCC ballfields



August Moon Cafe                            Drillen’s Hardware                 Beal’s Ice Cream

Barbara’s Kitchen                            Pratt Abbott Cleaners             Renditions

Gentlemen’s Choice                       One-Fifty-ATE                          Flynn & Company        

Fore River Woodworks                     CN Brown/Big Apple               Launder Center

Dr. Sabean - Dermatologist             Phil’s Foreign Auto                 Campus Book Store     

Hair on the Square                         Tradesmark, Inc.                    Spring Point Auto       Prescott,Lemoine,Jamieson & Nelson      Howe Photography        TV/VCR Repair


Economic Development

Willard Square

Cottage Road business zones

Expanded water dependent uses

Pickett Street business zones



United States Coast Guard (Breakwater)                       

Willow Street Parking Lot         

Beach House

Sanitary Pump Station                                       


Arts & Culture                                                                      

Portland Players                                                           

Portland Harbor Museum

Front Room Gallery





General Public Improvements

Heavy item pick-up                                           Beach beautification

More open space                                               More street trees

Year round toilets at Willard Beach                  Shuttle service to Amtrak and airport

Adequate sewer system


Traffic Related Public Improvements

Retain dead-end streets                                    Sidewalks/crosswalks

Roundabout at Willard Square                           Bike lanes

Traffic calming                                                  Improved road maintenance


Business & Economic Opportunities

Mom & Pop store in Willard Square                     Coffee shop

Boat and kayak rentals                                      Ice cream shop in Willard Square

Small businesses                                               Rental space for artists' studios

Bicycle rentals                                                   Bed & Breakfast establishments

Home businesses                                               SMCC students as boarders


Environment Development Opportunities



Seaweed harvesting  

Social and Cultural

Public cultural events at Fisherman’s Point          Playgrounds

Public art and sculpture                                       Neighborhood Center

Ice skating                                                           Senior Citizens Club

Skate board facility