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Sanbornton seeks input for improvements to town park

James Bolduc of LePene Engineering and Surveying reveals his conceptual design for a Town Park Master Plan. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
December 23, 2009
SANBORNTON — James Bolduc of LePene Engineering and Surveying brought a conceptual design for the Town Park to the Planning Board last Thursday, while the public was invited to give their own vision of what they would like to see at the Shaw Hill Road property.

Bolduc proposed that voters might prefer to see this as a long-term project that could be done in phases, but he wanted to begin conversations with residents and get their opinions.

"This is the beginning of our process for deciding what the town wants to see in a park," Bolduc said.

LePene has been working with the Recreation Commission for almost a year, discussing needs, what facilities they have, and what they would like to see in the future. The company performed a boundary and a topographic survey of the land and prepared a base plan for long-term planning. They then created a list of possible facilities that could be incorporated onto the property and drew up the conceptual master plan to present to Town Planner Robert Ward.

LePene will be holding two other public hearing as the process of outlining a recommendation for Town Meeting continues.

"We have some homework for you tonight. We'd like you to help me and the Recreation Commission prioritize what you'd like to see," Bolduc said.

A list of the proposed facilities was handed out along with a detailed booklet on the conceptual design. Those in attendance rated each of the 15 items in order of importance. Among the proposals were a regulation baseball field, two fields for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football, a playground, tennis courts, basketball court, concession stands with restrooms, a swimming pool and a skating rink.

Expanded parking, a paved access road, lighting for the fields, a second well and septic system, an irrigation system and a trail around the perimeter for biking and foot traffic were also asked to be rated. A section for comments was placed at the bottom for other ideas people may have for the park or why they would like an item removed from the plan.

Heather Goodwin of the Recreation Commission said safety was the number one concern for her. The road leading into the park is narrow and parking is limited. She would like to see the facility made safe and accessible first but conceded it is up to residents to make their own decisions.

"We want the public's input as well, because it's their park," she said.

Resident Alex Phelps thought site work would also be important to the project and advised that the grading for the fields along with the earthwork that would be involved should be of high priority. Valuable soils that would be removed in construction should be saved for other phases of the project. Phelps works in the construction industry and told Bolduc that the list he provided was great but, "I would recommend getting the site workable first."

Local residents from Shaw Hill Road had some concerns of their own about an improved park. Wayne Lescault asked if low-impact lighting would be included in the construction.

"My property abuts the park, so that's my concern," he told Bolduc.

Ginny Blackmer agreed and said, "The lights are concerning. I moved out there to get away from things like that."

Bolduc said much has been done with the development of low-glare lighting and "light pollution." He assured the neighbors that the lighting would hang down and be concentrated onto the fields as much as possible. It would not remain on overnight so as to interfere with their homes either.

Planning Board member Peter Dascoulias felt that a more centralized location would be of greater benefit to residents. Shaw Hill Road is on the far western edge of the town and is quite a drive for those along Lake Winnisquam and the surrounding area. Board member Dick Gardner echoed his sentiments.

The town has attempted to build a park in other locations in the past, Recreation Coordinator Julie Lonergan told them, and the efforts had not been met with approval. One resident added that perhaps the quality of the park would encourage people from the eastern side of town to make the trip to Shaw Hill Road.

"If we make it attractive enough, wouldn't you drive over there?" she asked.

Costs for the improvements have not yet been determined. Bolduc said he would prefer to see what residents elect as their priorities and then begin putting numbers together. A final decision for the facility would not come until Town Meeting, and at that time he would provide costs for the phase the voters decide upon.

Materials about the conceptual design are to be made available through the town Web site for others to familiarize themselves with the proposal. Two more public meetings will be scheduled and announced at a later date.

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