If you’ve been to Gorham’s Shaw Park since May 1, there’s a good chance you’ve seen or even chatted with Danny or Vicki Waite, the new stewards in their first season at the park. You certainly won’t miss the fifth wheel cozied up to the inside of the fence near the gate.
According to Cindy Hazelton, Gorham Rec. Director, the seasonal steward notion was considered soon after the 7.5 acre park was gifted to the Town of Gorham by Shaw Brothers Construction in December 2005. The park opened in summer of 2006, and for the last nine years, Al and Doris Buzzell held the steward role. For several reasons, they chose to no longer make the trip from Florida each summer.
Vicki and Danny (a retiree after 30 years as a third generation paper mill worker) live in Canton, Maine, and often visit their son Matt, his wife Mallarie, and preschool-aged grandson Camden (“Cam”), who live in Windham just across the town line. Vicki would often walk with Cam along the trails and the couple were familiar with the park. It was during one of those walks early last spring that she noticed the posted “Park Stewards Wanted” ad. The proximity to family, their love of the outdoors, and the beauty of the park led to their enthusiastic application.
The stewards are required to provide their own housing, but receive utilities hook-up from the town. Hazelton said the rec department seeks folks willing to commit from May 1 through Columbus Day weekend, but depart no earlier than Labor Day. The duties have some flexibility, but require assuring the gate is open and locked in sync with the park’s 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. hours.
The Waites take care of kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals which can be reserved by leaving a message at the park steward number (207-671-1926). In addition to the above rentals, the park has picnic tables and a small beach area adjoining the canoe and kayak launch, which may be used by anyone during park hours.
Vicki said, “We absolutely want to take the same pride and care in our residence here and through this piece of land like we take care of our own house.” She added, “We’re about family. One of my favorite things about the park is hearing kids laughing.” Danny spoke about his love of seeing parents connecting with their kids, especially in the outdoors. It reminded him of their three sons. “So precious, parents spending time with their kids. Goes by so fast,” he said.
The Waites reiterated several times that Hazelton and others at the recreation department have been very welcoming and helpful. They also tout the Gorham Police Department, whom Vicki said are “awesome,” and Danny added, “They’ve got our back.”
The couple are a friendly presence, but they’ll not be shy to point out that there’s no smoking and no alcohol permitted in the park. While they are attentive to keeping the park trash free, they also noticed early on that the long-time carry-in, carry-out protocol might need improvement. They requested trash cans, which the town has placed near the boat launch. Another addition this year is a mat on the launch, making for easier and less damaging kayak and canoe dragging. Both the park and the Waites are eager for your visit.