Southborough forms pocket park working group

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

Southborough forms pocket park working group
Work was ongoing at the site of an intersection relocation project in Southborough late last month. This project will include the development of a pocket park. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SOUTHBOROUGH – A working group to develop Southborough’s planned St. Mark’s Street pocket park will be composed of seven at-large members following a vote by the Southborough Board of Selectmen earlier this month.

Initially, Selectman Andrew Dennington, who was charged with creating recommendations for the group, suggested two at-large members and one representative each from the Board of Selectmen, Historical Commission, Library Trustees, Cultural Arts, and Planning Board/Community Preservation.

Dennington suggested a deadline of April 15 for the working group to present recommendations for what should be sited in the space that was formerly going to be a playground.

He noted that the area consists of a circular space in the middle of the property and does not affect already planned winding walkways and plantings.

The park is part of a larger project on Marlborough Road involving added sidewalks, fixed drainage and the creation of a turn-around for school buses and fire trucks. The park’s creation is a component of a $290,000 Shared Streets grant from the state, Department of Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan said at a previous meeting prior to this discussion on Dec. 7.

Board Chair Lisa Braccio said the space presented “an amazing avenue for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.” She noted that its proximity to the library allowed for more inclusive participation in programs.

Selectman Martin Healey said he noticed that Southborough’s noise bylaw committee is composed of unfamiliar faces — people who do not serve on other governmental boards.

“I find that incredibly refreshing,” Healey said. 



He added that groups focused on public safety and work along Main Street were also mostly made up of citizens rather than government board members.

He said it would be better to explore why people are interested in the project rather than “stacking” the committee with politicians.

Also, Healey said that, while having a deadline gives people an end date to work toward, some flexibility should be allowed.

Selectman Sam Stivers recommended language be added calling for three meetings where public participation is “solicited and permitted.” 

He was in favor of having representatives from the Historical Commission and Board of Library Trustees included in the makeup as well as five at-large members.

Having more at-large members was preferred over possibly leaving out certain boards, said Selectman Chelsea Malinowski. Braccio supported having the group composition include representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Historical Commission and Board of Library Trustees.

Following a 2-2-1 split in preferences, Stivers agreed to a group consisting completely of at-large members instead, making the vote 3-2.

Dennington said representative(s) from St. Mark’s School could be encouraged to get involved in a non-voting capacity, while Healey noted there may be a history teacher who wants to serve in the group and “throw his/her hat in the ring.”

Once the group is formed, members can decide whom they may want to consult with from the Nipmuc tribe and to what degree, Dennington said.

This project has prompted discussion at recent Board of Selectman meetings.

Though Board of Selectmen approved cutting six of nine trees in the area last month, town Historical Commission Chair Michael Weishan had asked to halt the project altogether.

This, he said, would allow time study any possible impact to nearby grave sites at the nearby Old Burial Ground.

Likewise, he said the Historical Commission was disappointed in a decision to remove a proposed historical walk from the project plans.