Committee Nailing Down Phase I List For New Park

Hangar, Building Ball Fields, Infrastructure Are Top Priorities For Former Griswold Airport Site

Not quite ready to make its recommendation to the board of selectmen, the Madison Park Development Committee is however inching closer to nailing down its list of priorities for the park voters agreed to help fund.  The committee met for several hours last week and ran the numbers with Madison Town Engineer Mike Ott.

“This is a conceptual plan,” Ott said. Ott was referring to the master design plan for the former Griswold Airport park site developed by landscape architect Anne Penniman. She did not attend the meeting. In going over cost estimates for the park, Ott said there are “a lot of ifs and a lot of unknowns.”  

The site  includes fragile ecosystems, birding and wildlife habitat and features tidal wetlands, coastal forests and grasslands.  

“Bringing forward our vision of the park, we need to prioritize the critical things in Phase I when the shovel hits the ground,” Park Development Committee chairman George McManus said.

 “Our charge is to design and prioritize and bring it to the Selectmen.”

The Park Plan

A $1.2 million bond for the park, with monies already outlaid for the costs associated with the bonding, a balance of around $900K could cover a number of projects, but the priorities include three ball fields, park entrance, driveway, fencing, parking, utilities, demolition and environmental remediation. Trails and the concession building don’t fit into the budget and with the must-do’s covered, there would still be a near-$100K shortfall.  Ideas were tossed around for Boy Scouts and other volunteers to help blaze trails and there was plenty of discussion about how a concession building could be realized – a resident priority, some members said. The list of projects that committee members thought not make it in the first phase included kayak landings and overlooks, monuments, and repairs to the north hanger, the latter was of particular concern to Ott.

“People, kids could get in that building. It is not secured,” Ott cautioned.

And so before the end of the meeting, securing the hangar became priority number one, followed by infrastructure utilities, the park entrance and parking lot, fields and irrigation trails, grassland restoration and the concession building, projected to cost $240K.

Plantings, picnic areas, amphitheatre and other plans are on the “wish list.”

Making Everyone Happy

Members agreed that clearly there are two schools of thought on what the park should be.

“When the ribbon is cut on opening day,” McManus said, “one constituency can go this way – fields, one can go that way – trails.”

Member Bill McCullough made the point: “We did not acquire this land to make Penn State.” McCullough wants to ensure nature and hiking trails are a priority.

At the meeting, McManus suggested that the committee, “…bring a strong Phase One list,” to the Board of Selectman with the “caveat that we can’t pay for it all.”

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday Dec. 22 at 7:15 p.m. in the Madison Room (Room A) of the Madison Town Campus.  

Robert Bracer November 28, 2011 at 10:44 AM
This "park" has been a joke since McCullough and his gang tricked the town into buying it. We were all duped by the fancy colored flyers that showed ball fields and now nothing. A concession stand are you kidding? Just rub it in our faces Mike Ott, the town shouldn't be spending more money, even after the Scarpati "taj mahal" sr. center is opened.
Janet November 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM
I still can't get over that the town voted yes to this park at the grossly inflated price that Leyland asked, and that our officials did not feel the obligation to negotiate. It was obvious that Leyland was never going to build that development in this economy. That last ditch plea about how small the tax increase would be for each household was a beauty. Nothing runs itself. People need to be more cognizant that when they vote "yes" to these referendums, it comes with more cost than just the initial purchase. Let's see what the new Senior Center annual operating budget will be. I don't recall seeing those numbers anywhere.
Michael November 28, 2011 at 02:03 PM
I thought we voted to leave it as free space and not immediately turn it into a expense we don't need? The palatial senior center (not whole community center), the clock tower on the ambulance barn and the copper plated cupolas, on the overgrown truck garage, all look great but where are the things that matter? A education reform that keeps up with competing towns that out score us on assessment testing, an economic development plan for main street and a water usage plan that allows for growth. Lets get/stayed focused here.
Phil November 28, 2011 at 03:26 PM
I have been saying this for a while. The $9 million has turned into $15 million and still growing. When is enough enough?
joe November 28, 2011 at 04:43 PM
What about some Tennis courts? They are low maintenance and families could enjoy playing at this picturesque site. And by the way, the town campus courts have been overloaded these past few weeks with the mild weather. Why did the nets get taken down at Paulson middle school almost three weeks ago? I still see some baseball equipment on the fields! Our residents have had to go to Clinton or Guilford to play on public courts because of this... and no, no t everyone in Madison belongs to a private tennis club (as our facilities manager Seems to think and uses this rational). Also, if the town wants to make an ice skating area for the winter, why do they put it on the tennis court surface? This causes damage to the courts every year! If the reasoning is to have a fenced in area, why not put it in the single court in the back? At least there would be a smaller area to repair from the damage. Its time for OUR town to realize that there are many families that play on our PUBLIC tennis courts and we do not have enough. At least keep what courts we have up to good condition and keep the nets up as long as the weather will allow so our residents can play in their own town!
Sharon Peters November 28, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Phil got booted so I will reiterate his thoughts...Its amazing how 9 million dollars has turned into 15 million dollars w/ interest. How much more is this going to cost with plans now?
Sharon Peters November 28, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Power to the Ambulance clock tower should be cut off. Why should the ambulance pay the electric bill for that useless structure?
Janet November 29, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Who is Phil and why did he get booted?
Janet November 29, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Why on earth would anyone want to put ball fields on a $9MM piece of property? We are stuck with this property now, so officials need to take a breath and look at what benefits the entire community, adults and kids alike. Tennis courts are one solution. A picnic area is another. And we really ought to think about selling off some commercial space for shops, art galleries, etc, to make some of this money back. We all paid the price, after all.
BL Davis November 29, 2011 at 02:47 PM
I can't wait for all the self congratulations (and self delusions) for bringing the Griswold project in "on budget and on time." Accomplished by the practice of constantly moving forward the completion date, and constantly calculating budgets upward. ....
Sharon Peters November 29, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Phil is a member here who gets booted because he speaks his mind about town hall; Pem, the editor does not like his opinions. He does not violate the TOS, but still gets booted because she wants her Patch to be all Politically correct. Ask her, she will explain. I will probably get booted for saying this!
Helen December 10, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Why more ball park? We'll need another committee to oversee that (translation...more money). just turn it into a nature path and park for all to enjoy. Yes, art gallery or some kind of commercial shop is another idea to recoup the financial loss.
Janet December 10, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Promising ball fields is how the "powers that be" rallied the schools/ families in town to vote yes to the purchase. It is not the right move for that land.


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