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CPC hears input on Phase II of School Street Park

Date: 7/3/2012

July 4, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — Should the next section of School Street Park include a third baseball field? Would the public be better served if the space were dedicated to a multi-use pavilion and perhaps more picnic sites? What about setting aside an area where the public could plant gardens, or adding a disc golf course?

The seven-member Community Preservation Committee (CPC) heard those and more suggestions for revisions to the initial plans for Phase II of the park during a June 27 public hearing at the Agawam Public Library.

Individuals who were not able to attend the meeting, but would like to submit input on the park's design should sent a letter to the Community Preservation Committee, care of the Agawam Town Hall, 36 Main St., Agawam, MA, 01001.

"We will draw [input] from this public hearing and see how to use the space best," Christopher Sparks, director of Parks & Recreation, told the committee and the handful of meeting attendees.

Sparks introduced architect Peter Wells from the Berkshire Design Group, designers of the park's Phase I development, who reviewed a sketch of an existing conceptual plan for the area originally drawn up in 2010. Wells explained that the design, which showed soccer, baseball and volleyball fields, a band shell, concession stand, two playscapes, a spray park, two separate picnic areas and a paved parking lot with access from Corey Street, would be modified based on public input and yet-to-be completed wetland surveys.

"We are in the process of determining the resource areas for wetlands," Wells said. "Plans may change, these [illustrated features] were the elements we were asked to include."

Sparks told the committee that Eagle Scout Ryan Riel had approached him about creating a disc golf course at the park as an Eagle Scout project, and that Riel would like to have that idea included for consideration in the final design.

Committee member Corrinne Wingard noted that most parks in Agawam do not include significant recreational facilities for older residents, and asked that elder's needs be considered when revising the Phase II design. She also broached the idea of incorporating community gardens into this phase of the park.

"It would also be a good idea to have a [design input] meeting at the Senior Center to get ideas," she added.

Attendee Teresa Kozloski suggested rethinking the allotted development space to include a multi-use pavilion, perhaps in place of the baseball diamond.

Committee Chair Henry Kozloski also questioned the inclusion of another baseball diamond in the Phase II conceptual plans, as two diamonds already exist in Phase I. Committee Vice-Chair Louis Russo added that there were "other places in town where we can put [baseball] diamonds." Committee member Ray Moreau said if the baseball field was eliminated from the plans, then the second picnic area, shown in the current design to be at least 180-feet from the parking lot, could be moved closer to parking and the concession stand.

Sparks said the initial request for development designs was for a multi-use, multi-field park area, which was reflected in the design presented. He added that this phase of park development would include adequate access to electricity, something that was overlooked in the Phase I development.

An audience member, who identified himself as a grandparent, suggested fencing in the playground area. Committee member Richard Bennett concurred, calling that proposed plan alteration "a godsend for parents."

Kozloski brought up the idea of using artificial turf on the multi-purpose soccer field. Though the initial investment would be higher than planting grass, he said it would cut down on park maintenance costs for the town over the long run. He said the same would hold true for using rubber surfaces rather than wood chips in the playscape areas.

Kozloski asked Wells when the committee could expect a cost estimate on any and all of the suggested revisions. Wells said he expected to have a cost estimate for Phase II development "about two weeks after we get approval of the final design."

CPC Administrator Jennifer Bonfiglio said the committee's next scheduled opportunity to review a revised Phase II development design would be its Aug. 22 meeting. However, the committee could chose to call a special meeting earlier than that date should plans be ready before that time.


During design discussions, Sparks told the CPC committee he was preparing to submit an application in the next few weeks for this year's Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant program for Phase II. He noted that the state had reduced the awards from $50,000 to $40,000 in this round of grants to allow it to assist more communities.

He said Agawam missed receiving a grant in last year's distribution by six points — scoring 56 out of the 61 points necessary to receive an award — and added that, as School Street Park is considered a regional park, he had advertised the June 27 public hearing on design ideas in West Springfield, hoping to boost the town's score in the Environmental Justice Neighborhood category. That was an area of the grant where the town had fallen short scoring points last year, Sparks said.

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