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Improvements At Calkins Park To Begin Next Year

Work on fields and other features will close park until spring of 2014

A New London park will be closed for much of next year as the Department of Public Works does a number of projects designed to rejuvenate the site.

The department recently completed a design phase for improvements at Calkins Park. The $750,000 project will be funded under a recent bond issue and the department plans to put it out to bid by mid-January, with the City Council taking a final vote on approval of the contract.

“I believe we’ve come up with a great design that can be a benefit to the city and the neighborhood,” said Bill Camosci, a Public Works consultant.

Under the design, the number of soccer fields at the park will increase from three to four and a high school regulation softball field will be established with two portable bleachers. Other improvements will include the planting of shade trees and wildflowers, exterior and interior renovations to a bathroom facility near the parking lot, exterior renovations to a building on Riverview Ave., and a new stairway.

The changes have been approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Inland Wetlands and Conservation Commission. Elena Pascarella, a landscape architect with Landscape Elements, said the project will involve reducing the size of wetlands at the site to improve visibility and safety. She said the improvements to a .45-mile five foot wide walkway will also allow greater handicapped access.

“We’d like to encourage more people of all physical abilites to use that walkway,” she said.

Plans call for the playing areas at the park to be unusable while work proceeds during 2013, with a reopening to take place in the spring of 2014 in time for the summer soccer season.

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Wayne Vendetto December 21, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Bud, I am not opposed to improvement and maintenance of any of our parks, but I find it interesting that you champion this project. There is a park on the other side of town, that if I recall correctly, you wanted to get rid of. That park is also in a densely populated residential area of mixed demographics. The only difference being, is that the park I am speaking of, is the only park in that section of town. I have no problem spending my tax dollars on facilities for our children. I just wish Riverside Park could have a playground. Just one. Nobody wants to be greedy. We have even asked for the used one that sits at the portables. Maybe someday.
Kathleen Mitchell December 21, 2012 at 07:21 PM
$750,000.even if it is bond money, is still $730,000. more than what our elected representatives have agreed to spend on moving the second-hand playscape from the Nathan Hale portable trailer to Riverside Park. The neighborhoods surrounding Riverside Park include the most densely populated area in New London as well as being of "... of mixed demographics and cultural backgrounds..." yet there is only one small playscape located there on the heavily trafficked corner of State Pier Road and Crystal Avenue. Why is that?
Clark van der Lyke December 21, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Right on track Kathleen and Wayne. I must be getting worn down because you both seem to have good points recently.
Kathleen Mitchell December 21, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Thanks, Clark. But, I don't think it's because you're getting worn down; it's because you're one of the most intelligent and kindest people I know.
Bud Wizer December 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Wayne, I expressed approval initially for the proposed sale of a portion of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard because I had no faith that our city's leaders, given how they appear to have deliberately abandoned by neglected the Martin Center's full-sized gym and usable auditorium, would do anything construction with the park. In fact, it seemed to me the deliberate neglect of the park might have been intended to bring it to such a state of disrepair and ill-repute, that selling it off would be easy street. After paying closer attention to the energies of persons like you and the others who, as it turned out, saved the park, I stepped into the voting booth and turned no. It was a turn of conscience, for which I am indebted to the scores of persons who rallied to win the referendum. What I'm planning on working on as the new year begins is the pedestrian bridge over O'Neill Drive, which is primarily infrastructure for poor folk and is in disgraceful condition. The Hodges Square gentrification seems, no surprise to me, to have overlooked the poor folk, as is usually the case when gentrification rears its ugly head. Merry and Happy to you, Wayne. Keep the faith:) :

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