By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – Since 2009 many Westborough residents have enjoyed using the town's beautiful Veterans? Freedom Park. The 22-acre park, located at 169A West Main St., includes walking trails that connect to the town's network of trails known as the “Charm Bracelet,” access to Mill Pond, and a cross country trail.
If Westborough's voters approve a request at the Monday, Oct. 15 Special Town Meeting, residents will soon be able to utilize an exercise fitness circuit there as well. The best part of this plan? Thanks to the Rotary Club of Westborough, the equipment and labor to install it will all be donated.? And a ?bit further down the line, the Rotary hopes to build a small, simple pavilion there as well, that would also be donated. ??
There is only one catch in the plan – a deed restriction on the park currently prohibits any structures from being built on the property. As a result, the request will be made to the STM voters to approve the removal of the restriction.
Prior to the STM, the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the request. That hearing will be held Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m. at the Forbes Municipal Building. ?
The park, formerly owned by the Lee family, was donated to the town in 2007 by developer Francis Zarrette. The action was part of a deal that allowed the construction of a housing development that will be located near the MBTA commuter rail station on Smith Parkway and Fisher Street.
At that time, the agreement was to keep the park as open space and only allow passive recreation. There is one tennis court dating back to when the land was owned by the Lees – that has been “grandfathered” in.”
Kathy Wilfert, the Rotary's president, said the organization had actually purchased the fitness equipment nearly a decade ago but when initial plans to install it at another location fell through, the equipment was put into storage.
“It's in perfect condition because it's never been used,” she said. “It is excellent quality, very attractive and weather- proofed so it won's rust.”
The circuit, which is approximately 72 feet by 36 feet includes nine stations, and is similar to circuits at health clubs where one can do a variety of cardiovascular and strength moves, she noted. ??It is geared for use by high school students and adults.
The proposed pavilion would be about 20 feet by 24 feet and have several picnic tables available for park users.? ?
Both features would be placed in spots right near the existing parking lot.?
Bill Linnane is a member of the Rotary Club who has also been working on the project.
“The pavilion would just provide a great place for residents to get out of the town or rain,” Linnane said. “It would be a nice place for families to bring picnics.”?
“People may worry that removing the deed restriction would open the door for other buildings to be put here,” he added. “But they have to remember – nothing can be done without Town Meeting approval.”
Earl Storey, a member of the town's Department of Public Works, has long been a champion of the park. Part of his work there, or as he calls it, a “labor of love,” was creating a cross country trail, which he now also maintains.
The way the trail is set up, he said, allows for parents to stand on a knoll and watch their children run as opposed to trails in other communities where runners must go through wooded areas. ?
?”I's thrilled to see the kids use this and that it keeps them safe,” he said.
Storey said he hopes the voters approve the measure to remove the deed restriction. Installing the circuit equipment and then eventually the pavilion would encourage many more residents to use the park, he said.
“It's such a beautiful piece of property – we are so fortunate to have this in Westborough,” he added.
The STM will start at 7 p.m. in the Westborough High School auditorium, 90 West Main St.