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New canoe and kayak launch nearly ready for public use

Date: 6/7/2011

June 8, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Canoe and kayak enthusiasts will soon have a new place to slip their silent crafts into the Connecticut River.

During a recent Town Council meeting, Mayor Edward Gibson presented updated construction reports, maps and photos of the Riverfront Canoe and Kayak Access, also known as the Riverfront Park Project, under construction between the Pride Station and the building housing Fast Signs on Riverdale Street.

"It's been interesting to hear the comments of people excited about being able to put kayaks in the pristine river," he said.

Gibson said the Department of Public Works (DPW) project to turn the narrow strip of land into a ramp for non-motorized water craft began early in 2010 when the town received approval for a $108,800 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations Grant (PARC) from the state. Supplemented with $59,200 from the mayor's trust fund — monies, Gibson explained that are "under the mayor's control and came from the selling of town property and are earmarked for the repair or restoration of town parks" — the total budget for the project was $168,000.

"There is no cost to West Springfield taxpayers [for construction of this park]," Gibson added.

Gibson said construction on the boat ramp, based on a revised design by engineering firm Fuss & O'Neil presented to the DPW in December 2010, began in early April.

According to DPW Director Jack Dowd, his department provided the construction oversight for the project, while the initial PARC grant application for the project was written by the town's Conservation Officer, Mark Noonan.

Gibson noted that actual access to the river's edge is a "trap rock and gravel road, as required by [state] conservation laws."

He closed the presentation by acknowledging that many people had inquired about the name of the boat ramp. Gibson said, for the "first time in my tenure I'm going to use my naming rights,"and dedicate the park to one of the town's former building inspectors who was very involved in projects above and beyond his position and was an avid outdoorsman.

Gibson said the new park will be known as the Thomas A. Lagodich Riverfront Park Canoe and Kayak Launch.

"It's a wonderful tribute Mayor, and well-deserved," Town Council President Kathleen Bourque, said.

Gibson said he expected the park to be open for public use by the end of June.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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