Chairman's Letter Winter 2004

MILL WOODS PARK MASTER PLAN.  This section is an account of developments concerning the Master Plan during January 2004.  Wethersfield Post and Life in Wethersfield carried stories on the skate park during February and early March..  

A.  Skate Park.  Planning developments and milestones were announced at a progress meeting on 01.08.04 at the Pitkin Community Center.  The results reported during the meeting came from the work of sub-committees established during the inaugural planning meeting 11.12.03. Skate Park Planning

Approximately 50 people attended the progress meeting, the overwhelming majority of them young people.  Also present were Mayor Russ Morin  and Town Manager Bonnie Therrien  and the Chairman of the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, Richard Dobmeier.

The Main Committee Treasurer, Nathaniel Mumford, reported that $3292 in funding had been raised; sources included grants, contributions from businesses and individuals, coin collections and that old friend, Anonymous.

Recreation and Parks Director, Kathy Bagley, called on representatives of three sub-committees to report progress to date.

Rules and Regulations:  Paul Mangiafico reported that a draft list of 13 rules was prepared.  The sub-committee provided copies of the list as handouts for those attending the meeting.  The list is patterned on the rules adopted by the Town of Newington.  Ms Bagley agreed with the sub-committee that for the time being their job is to await the outcome of reviews by various Town departments.

Fund Raising:  Matt Zawadski described planned activities to raise money for the project.  A movie night with refreshments is scheduled for 01.23.04.  A bottle drive is scheduled for 04.03.04.  Mail solicitations were sent to local businesses; prizes for coming events will be sought also.  Matt pointed out the need for additional volunteer help to raise money.

Design:  Garret Serven used a blackboard drawing to describe the features of the preliminary design for the skate park.  A various curves, ramps and pyramids are included, as are stairs with a railing.

A schedule was established for near-term meetings of the Main Committee; the first Thursday of the month through June.  The dates are Feb 5, March 4, April 1, May 6 and June 3.

B.  Master Plan Approval Process.  During the Town Council meeting on September 15, 2003, the Council unanimously passed the Master Plan for Mill Woods Park as a conceptual plan subject to detailed design and refinement. The proposed plan is dated March 28, 2002, as amended  last fall.  In July, the Plan was referred to the Planning & Zoning Commission to consider if it is consistent  with the Wethersfield Plan of Conservation & Development.  The Commission determined that the Plan is consistent and returned it to Council for a vote on acceptance with one recommendation.  The Commission's decision advised that construction of additional parking areas should be undertaken after existing space is shown to be inadequate.

Data on use of the parking areas in the park during the 2002 soccer season is presented on this web site. It can be viewed under the "News" heading in the item labeled "Chairmanís Letter Fall 2002". Additional data on use of the Park was collected from May through July.  A summary of the survey results can be viewed in Spring Parking Counts.

During the the Town Council meeting on September 15, several concerns were expressed by members.  Recreation & Parks director, Kathy Bagley, was queried on the removal of two softball fields, funding, budget, schedule and expected actions should Council pass the Plan .  The following responses and discussion occurred.

   Softball Fields: To accommodate two proposed soccer fields, softball fields 4 and 5 would be eliminated.  The availability of Fuller field at Valley Crest and Palmer drives and scheduling are expected to allow the continuation of softball consistent with the current level of participation.

  Funding: Under the current economic conditions, funding sources will be sought outside of the town budget.  With passage of the Plan, the Recreation & Parks Department  will be able to sponsor fund-raising events and apply for grants.  Potential future funding by the town was discussed.  As an extension of the discussion on any town funding, members of the Council expressed and agreed on the need to establish priorities among all town projects, in order to better manage project and town budgets.  More later.

Budget: With passage of the Plan and successful funding, currently projected capital budgets for park improvements and maintenance would be reassessed and modified.

Schedule: With passage of the Plan, initial efforts would involve funding of the project.  The Recreation & Parks Department hopes to undertake some small, stand-alone components of the Plan with volunteers, such as improvement/extension of walking trails. The department believes that success with the small components would support the fund-raising aspects of the project. Neither the sequence nor schedule for detailed design were mentioned.