Letter to the editor,
After learning of the Mayor's proposal to put the City's new Senior Center in Ward Park last November, I immediately contacted City Officials to learn more. In 2011, the Recreation Commission confirmed a long-overdue Master Plan renovation that was to take place over the next five years. The new plan allowed for over 230 parking spaces, improved green space for picnic areas, a “grand stand” as well as upgraded park amenities that already exist. It was certainly ambitious, but given Ward Park's rich history, its size and proximity to downtown, it was appropriate.
The Mayor was not interested in discussing upgrades to the Park when we spoke.
It was clear his first priority was constructing the two-story municipal building on what is now a youth baseball field and the rest of the Park had become an afterthought.
The City's own 2010-15 Open Space and Recreation Plan includes Ward Park in their list of Protected Parcels and states, “This is an important park for the center city and is used heavily by the residents and sports groups.”
The net-net for those keeping up is there was never any feasibility study done to confirm Ward Park as the ideal location and the Recreation Commission freely and without consideration gave permission for the Mayor to use the “northeast section” of the Park. I wonder how they [Rec Comm] feel now that it was shared at the Operations & Oversight Committee meeting on March 14 that the building will most likely be 13,000 sq ft on the ground floor with a possible second floor for expansion, have its own outside dining areas, and parking for 20 LESS cars than currently allowed in the New Street lot.? From the rough “updated & scaled back” Master Plan also presented at the O&O meeting, it is clear the Park itself will suffer, as well the youth organizations that use the fields, and the many families and residents that have use for open green space. www.savewardpark.com
I have to trust the City Council that they will recognize the accelerated schedule of this “plan” for what it really is and take the time to make serious inquiries before accepting the land from the Recreation Commission.
Christine S. Manzi
Property Owner, Marlborough