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.