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Park Commission Tour

EVENT:                       Park Commission Tour
DATE:                         Wednesday, September 9, 2009
TIME:                          12:00 noon
PLACE:                       Van Horn Park, Armory Street
CONTACT:                  Patrick J. Sullivan, Director 787-6440

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno;  the Board of Park Commissioners and  Patrick J. Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, will be touring Park Division sites. The purpose of the tour is to view park projects that affect the quality of life in the respective neighborhoods. 

Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, “The City of Springfield is blessed with one of the largest inventories of green space per capita in the country.  We have to continue to find creative ways to develop our parklands and open spaces, which in turn enhances economic activity, supports recreation and improves the overall quality of life for our residents.”

Executive Director Patrick Sullivan stated, “Mayor Sarno has been consistently supportive of the park system through active dialogue to engage the business community, local government and our State legislature regarding the responsibilities that we all share to provide quality facilities to our region.  Today’s tour is a necessary step in our continuing efforts to secure and provide recreational opportunities for today’s residents and for the generations to come.”

Tour schedule:

1.         Van Horn Park Armory Street                           12:00 p.m.

A 114 acre facility, Van Horn Park was transferred to the Park Department in 1920 by the Water Department for Playground purposes.  Most recently, Van Horn Park received funding for renovations from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management Urban Self Help Grant and by Massachusetts Transportation Bond monies in 2005.  Improvements included entryway, parking lot, basketball court, tennis courts, ball fields, walkways and irrigation system, as well as fencing, and security lighting.  This is an important part of the Hungary Hill neighborhood and currently has a large need for a community room and restrooms to provide adequate services for the many activities that take place.  The Van Horn Dam has been rated in Critical condition by the Commonwealth of Mass.  The city has provided plans to the DCR and is awaiting approval for repairs. The Department will be touring the site with the Park Commission to review the site and gain an understanding of the importance in repair of this structure.

 2.         Walsh Playground                     Freeman Terrace                      12:30 p.m.

Walsh Playground (4.0 acres), which has been closed for site concerns since 2006, is awaiting redevelopment funds to restore the ball field, playground and basketball court that once existed for the Liberty Heights neighborhood.  General site improvements are also needed such as drainage, irrigation, and grading. The site had been used has a dump in the 1920’s and the decomposition of the material dump is creating 10 – 12 ft craters.  The department is completing a study of the site to determine renovation costs.   

3.         Marshall Roy Playground St. James Boulevard                  12:50 p.m.

Formerly East Springfield Playground, and taken by the Board of Park Commissioners as “parkland” in 1938, this park totals 14.6 acres.  The park received $630,000 in renovations including a local share of $189,000 authorized by the control board in 2007.  Renovations included restrooms, ball diamonds, playground and spray structure, and upgraded fencing, parking lot, and irrigation system.

4.         Johnny Apple Seed Park                        Hancock & Cherry Sts              01:15 p.m.

This 4.77 acre facility offers a unique setting for an urban park.  It is bordered by Mill River and a densely populated six corners neighborhood.  The parks present condition requires immediate assistance.  Renovation plans include a new playground, fencing and amenities.  Located within a mile from State Street and Springfield Technical Community College, the park could potentially serve as a gateway to the residential areas of Forest Park and Six Corners neighborhood.

5.         Rebecca Johnson School Catharine St.                             01:35 p.m.

The school, located near Mason Square, abuts several acres of open space.  The City is seeking to transfer the property to the Parks Division in order to receive eligibility for the Commonwealth’s Urban Self Help grant to develop this property with play grounds, a walking track, and a baseball diamond.  The School committee Building and Grounds sub committee voted to transfer the land to the Park Commission in June 2009.

6.         Forest Park Dam                       Forest Park, Sumner Ave           01:50 p.m.

Forest Park Dam is located just south of the main gates at Sumner Ave.  While giving access to over 1 M visitors per year, the dam also plays an important role in processing storm rain and run-off from a concentrated urban density at the X intersection.  The dams collapse has caused erosion of the bank, tree loss, and may even threaten the main access into the park if not restored.  The area is a lush ecosystem that supports many wild animals and vegetation as well as recreational opportunities such as hiking, cross country skiing and bird watching.  It is critical the dam be repaired in the next year to prevent further deterioration of the entrance road.


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