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Parks and Recreation retrospective: the 1970s

Editor's note: This is the latest in a series researched by Longmeadow Park Commissioner James A. Russell for the purpose of history and insight into the development of a master plan for the town' parks and recreation programs. Information for the series was derived from the archives of the town's annual report. This article covers the years 1970 through 1980.

1970: Linwood Potter and Thomas Miller two longtime serving employees with many years of loyal service to the Town of Longmeadow Parks and Recreation Department Retired. Miss Ellen Lupia joined the department in July as a full time program director, and expanded both adult programs as well as teenage activities.

The basement of the community house was turned over to the teenagers as a center, and the board instituted a policy of meetings with all interested teens, periodically on regular meeting nights in an attempt to institute more meaningful programs and establish a dialog. The 7th parcel of land was purchased at Turner Park and the sum of $10,000 was spent to reconstruct the dam and dredge the pond.

1971: the 8th parcel of land in Turner Park was purchased from the Kreiner family. Improvements to the community house consisted of replacing the aging dishwasher and painting of the building. A new dump truck was also purchased.

1972: On June 23,1972 at the annual town meeting the town voted to acquire the remaining 2 parcels of land at turner park for the sum of $79,400.00. These were parcels 5 and 9, the purchase of these 2 parcels gave the town a total of 83 acres for parks and recreation The town approved the sum of $22,000.00 for the fencing of the little league field.

1973: Assad ogoley after 30 years of loyal service to the park department, retired. The board welcomed Jayne F.I. Gill, the first woman commissioner elected to the Park Board.

4 additional lighted tennis courts where opened at Bliss Court. The 4 courts erected in 1962 were resurfaced and painted.

A second Little League field was completed at the entrance to Turner Park. Recreation programming was changed dramatically for the summer with an experimental day camp program at Bliss Park. Enrollment for all sessions offered, was at capacity.

1974: this year marked the formation of the Longmeadow Beautification Committee by the board to which Jayne Gill was appointed representing the Park Board. Recreation programming continued to expand with the Summer Day Camps. A considerable amount of time was spent in a study of a comprehensive plan for Turner Park with long- range plans for the whole town being considered. Two additional pieces of equipment were purchased

1975: the board commemorated the tenth year of service to the town by Dr. Harry E. Reynolds Superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department. Considerable time was spent on future planning and laying the groundwork for expansion as the need arises.

On a unhappy note, vandalism increased during the year forcing the department to install a security system at Greenwood Park swimming pool to prevent future destruction. The recreation programs were reorganized and expanded and continued to operate at full capacity.

1976: The Bicentennial year was a very busy one with the focus on the Green and the Community House for the Town's Historic Celebration. The town approved funds to convert the cottage behind the Storrs Library into an Over Sixty drop- in center. The Park Commissioners published a booklet of all the Park and Recreation facilities in town and the scheduled events for the year. The Community Women's Club of Longmeadow was a major supporter of this endeavor. Recreation programs continued to grow and attendance was at an all time high.

1977: Repair work was done to the Greenwood Park Pool which consisted of replacing the water pipes and repairs to the filter system. The over-sixty Cottage was opened in the spring with a very well attended ceremony. The house was transformed by the park crew in to a warm, gracious drop-in center. Our sincere thanks go out to the Library Board and their staff for their cooperation in this matter. The Beautification Committee continued its fine work with a number of projects.

1978: In August Ellen Lupia O'Sullivan, Recreation Director resigned to accept a college teaching position. In October Miss Jill McCarthy was appointed Recreation Director.2 additional trucks were purchased for the Park Department and the first installment of chairs were also purchased to replace our aging chairs. The Park Department's Maintenance staff now maintains the Town Hall, Police and Streets and Engineering buildings as well as the Council of Aging with the addition of one additional employee. At the September 18,1978 special town meeting the sum of $314,000.00 was approved for a new pool in Bliss Park

1979: The Beautification Committee also welcomed a new member, Mrs. Patricia Eagan. The Board appointed Mrs. Eagan as a needed fourth member of what was previously a three-member committee consisting of Jayne Gill, Joan White and Wayne Ottani. The Beautification Committee continued to be just that by making most attractive floral plantings at such focal spots as the Green, the fronts of Town Hall, Police and Fire Buildings, Community House etc. additional areas included, the islands at the entrance to Meadowbrook Road and Massachusetts Ave. also the Town's two War Memorials. Their efforts for the town are greatly appreciated.

With the approval at a town meeting the Park Board is preparing to start construction for a new pool at Bliss Park. It is expected that the pool will be operational for next summers use. Recreation programs continued to be very well received. The Park Department in its usual spirit of cooperation provided equipment and manpower to assist the Recycling Program in getting off the ground.

1980: with the renovation of Bliss Park Pool the town now has a clean, modern and efficient pool. Additional improvements were made to the physical structure of the Community House. The recreation Department continues to grow with new programs being added. In the interest of sound fiscal management, the Board of Park Commissioners is in the process of revising the fee schedule for those groups who wish to rent the Community House. Due to budget constraints, the services of two full-time park employees were lost to attrition.

The 1970s were a very exciting decade.