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City receives federal grant to help rehabilitate Chapman Playground

Date: 5/12/2010

May 12, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- The Chapman Playground on St. Paul Street has been in deplorable condition for quite some time but it won't always be that way.

City and state officials have secured a $90,000 grant from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to finance engineering services and construction plans for a new and greatly improved park.

"Not only is [the potential rehabilitation] enhancing the Park and Recreation offerings, it's just a great park in a neighborhood that has an influx in the number of children who need a nicer place to play," Jim Blascak, acting director and program coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department, said.

The park is "usuable," Blascak added. However, he noted the playscape is virtually gone with only the monkey bars and rings remaining; the backstop for the baseball field is rusted; the tennis courts are unusable due to old, cracked pavement; and the pavilion will be torn down shortly.

Blascak said the proposed rehabilitations would also help increase the number of fields needed for programming. The department often requires the use of school fields because the department's 29 parks and playgrounds are insufficient, he added.

"Chapman Playground is an unpolished gem in the Westfield city parks portfolio," State Rep. Donald Humason Jr. said. "Abutting the Westfield Riverwalk and its location in the heart of a neighborhood will make it a magnet for our city once it is renovated."

Plans for the estimated $750,000 rehabilitated park include new basketball courts, a baseball and softball diamond and a pavilion with bathrooms, additional parking and picnic areas.

"Clean, modern and effectively-programmed public parks play a vital role in stabilizing neighborhoods," State Sen. Michael Knapik said. "I am pleased Gov. [Deval] Patrick and [Energy and Environmental Affairs] Secretary [Ian] Bowles have deemed the Chapman Playground project worthy of funding in this latest round of planning grants."

The city expects to receive a Parkland Acquisition & Renovations for Communities grant to cover construction costs once plans are finished, according to Knapik.