Crompton Park Master Plan Hearing 1 (Live-ish-blog)

6.30: Barbara Haller enters, crowd sings happy birthday.

F-O-T-B Steve Foskett and Hannah are here; it’s getting wicked packed in this room (my estimate is at least 50 people). Steve says there’s a citywide crimewatch meeting on Wednesday night.

6:38 – No one wants to sit up front. Feels like church.

Rob Antonelli opens. Here are Barbara Haller and Michael Moore and Park Commissioner Paul Gunnerson.

Haller – Rep. Fresolo wanted to be here but will not likely be here. (He had “a mishap” today)

6:40 – Antonelli – they’ll increase the radius of the outreach for the next meeting.

There are three different arial views of the park up front, along with a list of areas of concern.

Antonelli “Nothing is off the table” – “We will look at all of those items and incorporate them into our next meeting.” Additionally, if there’s anything after this meeting, call the Park Office with comments.

Looking at three meetings, possibly 4. Parks & Rec Commission meeting after consensus, then to City Council for final approval.

Design Firm Weston & Sampson Engineering (Jean Belanger is lead, he’s a male); one of sub contractors for the pool design. Experience in park renovation and pools.

6.45 – Paulette: parents and children speak first?

6:46 – Michael Moonan and Marianna Marascol also here from W&S. Belanger estimates somewhere between 50-55 people here. “Parks are of critical importance to us [as citizens]” – “Almost every age group is represented here today.” Challenge is to make park “accepting and fun” – “understand how people make great use of this park, …at the end of 3 or 4 community meetings, we come back to you with a plan…that identifies a strategy to implement this plan.” Phases depending on funding.

6:49 – we’re going to stop talking by 7:00…and then they’ll listen to the neighbors.

They’ll be surveying the land soon. Create base map will be basis for concept diagrams and for any construction documents.

Antonelli encourages people to take a seat up front. “I did put on deodorant today.” Spoken like a blogger!

6:51 – Michael Moonan describes the park: ball fields (football, 2 softball, 1 baseball, all of which overlap), basketball court, tennis court, pool, playground area, former playground area taken out to make room for pool, large mound, etc.

Mariana discusses edges and edge treatments. The four corners have some interesting features (signage, historical markers) that could be incorporated better. How could new pool complex be incorporated better into the design. Lighting, play equipment. She’s interested in seeing the children’s designs for the park.

6:54 – There’s a kid who’s looking a little tired, so the kids are going up.

Maris (?) – “Better monkey bars, … swings, 50-foot slide, 10 foot slide, … pond with ducks, drinking fountain, playground that’s clean, see-saw.”

Elma (?) – “two hang-glider, 12 benches, bouncy cages, flowers in a garden, [baby sqwaking in the distance so I missed some of hers.”

Excellent pictures. Kid who’s half-asleep has little comment.

Eddie, who’s not here, wants a fort, some fruit trees, and a wobbly bridge, which he’s very adamant about.

Elma – feels that there should be boys and girls sections.

Lady from Pernet also emphasizes age appropriate stuff in playground as well.

The kids would like the playground in the same spot.

6:58 – open up to further discussion…any more kids?

The girl next to me has a comment…More swings than one.
Treehouse from another kid.
Pizza place.
A little fantasy palace play area.
More trash cans, also from the girl next to me.

7:00 – a lady says that she used to be a girl once. We had swings, seesaws, there were no scary people. “It’s going to be a huge effort to change some behavior so that people don’t take away your play area. …Keep it a children’s park, ..the bad people can come and change things overnight.” Damn straight!

Antonelli – let’s look at this as an opportunity to move forward. “What we do here and what we do after that is really crucial. Make people understand that this is our park and we need to keep it nice. We’d rather maintain something than fix something [for parks]. Starting point for us to move forward.”

More kids recommendations:
Pet area
Bucket/baby swings; Antonelli explains that if they were it would be one section for bucket and one for the regular swings.
Rock climbing area
Security so no one can break our stuff; securing border with wood guard rail; we want it to be accessible and look friendly, but don’t want vehicles getting into the facility.

7:05 – With video cameras, you don’t get 24 hour coverage (like a security guard) but will be able to work with WPD to resolve issues.
There will be cameras at the pool.
Working with Technical Services to get instant access to the cameras as part of overall citywide park program.

Idea from a kid – Binoculars.

Hannah speaks – finished a year’s service at Pernet and works in the neighborhood. Concerned about the cleanliness of the park. GIRF meets weekly and has cleaned the park three times. Hector Reyes and his group helped clean up in May. REC helped with supplies. Dog poop, drug syringes, in the park. Parks is really responsive to their calls.

Would like a regularly scheduled trash pickup, especially since the pool will draw more people to the park. Monday mornings is the worst. More trash cans and possibly a recycling receptacle.

Designated spot for dogs because there’s poop everywhere. If we had a spot for dogs, kids wouldn’t be stepping over poop.

7:10 – Another guy, two comments:
1) Game table with checkers and chess,
2) Worried that other people from other areas of the city would bring dogs if you opened things up to dogs

7:12 – Another member of GIRF comes to speak: No lights on top of the hill, that’s where we’re finding most of the beer bottles. Last summer was a stabbing in the park, we know police officers come by the park, could they walk INSIDE the park? Maybe some activities along with more lighting. Quinsig Avenue has no fencing. In Webster, they have a big belly [we have them in Worcester too] – could we get them here as well?

Antonelli confirms we have 6 big bellies in parks. Too early to see how they’re working.

Signs: rules, welcome, no littering.

7:15 – Lady in Green – Margarita, didn’t catch the last name – she considers herself a friend of the neighborhood. She’s concerned that the sidewalk is broken and that it can be like a pond when it rains. She enjoys the park – it has many green areas. Are we going to keep roughly the same spaces with the renovation?

Antonelli – the park isn’t going to get smaller, and they’re determining location now.

Belanger – nice balance right now between paved spaces and pathways, and landscape space as well, for informal use, and fields. The finished plan likely would not look a whole lot different than it does now.

She gives her handwritten comments as well.

She says she especially likes the hill; Mariana asks what she likes about the hill. In winter, they are able to slide down the hill. For exercise, it’s great, nice view from there.

Antonelli – where do you slide down the hill? She responds – towards the playground.

A gentleman says he does laps – can we have lap lanes with mile designations? To me, the fence reminds me of a prison, change the look to make it more appealing.

Another person – branches hang over the fence.

7:19 – Child: basketball – fix the ripped nets.

7:20 – A man has a list: walking course that is graded so you know how many laps you did, same things for bicycle; handball courts; dog park, fenced; lots of people want more picnic areas (benches and tables);

Antonelli says all new benches are black metal, have had good luck with them.

Continuation — Skateboard park (Antonelli points out they have one at Green Hill); long term process: not just what we want now. WE have a problem with trees, they’re all Norway maples that are 50-60 years old. “Every year one crumbles.” Hardwood trees, trees that aren’t going to be beautiful for us, but for those who come after us. “Will outlive us.”

Antonelli – we look at the maintenance function (like fences with grass on either end). “We’re trying to build something that will last a while.” We don’t want every park to look the same, but we can fit in the components that are well-maintained and designed for it.

Belanger – comment on the trees; we want to make certain that there’s a big program for plantings.

7:27 – ALB-resistant trees? Antonelli says they’ll likely steer away from maples and any other tasty snacks.

7:28 – Sue Moynagh – applauds people who do cleanups. Would find  broken glass in the mulch in playground section. Vegetation should be native to this area. If they could be replaced when/if destroyed. Not everybody is into sports – in favor of picnic tables. Don’t touch the hill.

7:29 – Another lady – when she was cleaning before, we found three needles around basketball court. Inside the park, after park hours, could we have increased police presence?

7:31 – Can they have a satellite police station like they do downtown? (Can we say it all together – the WPD needs to come to the next meeting?)

Antonelli praises the impact model.

Jim Turner, rep of the carpenters union – Pernet & other neighborhood groups. Ice skating rink in tennis courts. Rubber liner is wearing down, as are wood boards. With a little bit of creative imagination, perhaps we could convert back and forth from tennis to ice. He thinks that with some architectural work, we could fix that. (Antonelli says that type of design is being worked into East Park.)

7:35 – Lady – everything that was said in this meeting was negative, except what Margarita says. She says it shouldn’t all be painted with a negative brush. “Be grateful that condoms are being used.” “There have always been things going up on the hill.” (The girl next to me and I are wondering if this chick has ever seen the crappy condition of the playground swings.)

Antonelli says she’ll be surprised as the process goes on – at the end, we’ll have a document that guides us in the development of the facility. “There are so many people who here who are willing and who want to be involved.” She says you can’t change human nature. Antonelli continues with his positive bent (which, as you can guess, I’m more fond of).

[I would also like to point out that at one point in her discussion of the benefits of condoms, this lady said that there were condoms all over the ground after the Latino Festival. Now, I’ve never been, but if I’d know that public fornication was in the cards at the Latino Festival, I would have definitely gone. But let’s not get negative or anything!]

7:38 – Paulette from Pernet – considers this the most important resource and gift to the neighborhood we have. It is our only community space – this building and the park – it’s extremely valuable, yes, there are negative things that happen here, but there are also many positive things that happen here.
Community space was seen as a big issue – there’s no school in the neighborhood, this is an important space for community. Neighborhood center not big for some events.
Picnic and family areas
Open multi-purpose space.
Beautification – more flowers and shrubs, community garden plot.
The more active a park is, the better the quality.
Mosaic or tile patio depicting some of the history of the neighborhood, or pictures of basketball greats like Bob Cousy.
Cleanliness and maintenance, like Friends of Crompton Park.
Form a community between city and local youth.
Custom designed trash cans.

7:44 – Eliminating at least one of the ball fields and doing something else with the space
Recreation for kids
Music series (small-scale) in the park
Bike trail/bike racks, clearer signage for bike trail
Using hill as amphiteater
Baby rockers in playground
Sleigh rides in the winter
Youth & adult fitness programs
Spooky walk around Halloween
Basic sports camps
Farmers Markets
Additional staffing for community building, crime prevention through environmental design, making the park a green park, where the lighting and water, other features, are working towards a green experience (solar, etc.)
Adult recreation opportunities (like horseshoes, volleyball space, chess and checkers tables, etc.)
Another kid suggestion: tents

Richie from GIRF: would like center to be bigger.

Emily from Pernet, runs garden program. We had park stewards who fixed broken benches with help from carpenters union. Clearly by having kids do this it made an impact. Suggest to try to incorporate more park steward programs. People say issues come from youth, and these types of programs mitigate that.

Antonelli – a couple of years ago, parks hired 200 youths, this year, 30. Budget, etc. Further discussion of how education on trash issues starts young. It helps to get from kids to parents to grandparents.

Another lady: public restroom? Do we need it?

Antonelli: Senator Moore mentioned this as well. If someone is here to monitor and open/close, they tend to have the most vandalism than anything else. Can’t monitor with video cameras, etc. Our parks have a standard agreement that they are opened with staff, and it’s an overtime issue. Only ones outside that are little leagues, but the l.l.s are responsible for them. In one case, Beaver Brook is open for that purpose, but the league takes care of it.

Lady: Why can’t DPW take care of it?

Antonelli: 60 parks, 21 staff. Where it works is where we have other groups who assist.

7:55 – Mike Dudek, principal at Saint Mary’s. Lives on Vernon Street. Crompton Park is a multi-purpose park. Reiterates what other people say.

(The girl next to me says that people sleep in the park and that that makes it scary. Now her mother watches them from the window when they play. I would like to direct her to this excellent discussion about women being key to any park’s success.  Also, I think we have a future blogger – she said, “You can text without looking?” asking about my typing. I almost felt like we were going to have a “I know kung fu”-“Show me” moment.)

Dudek, continued – He would like to offer the school’s assistance in cleanups. Would love to have kids in for community days or field days.

Barbecue pits? Really nothing that says Crompton Park, welcome – that would be a big deal.

Another gentleman – what about the self-service bathrooms like in France or Japan?  (See here or here for examples in American cities; Nicole has used these and they are awesome.)

Bill from the neighborhood. Mini basketball hoops for toddlers.

Antonelli – you’re supposed to pick him up as a workout.

Bill also reiterates that the basketball court is heavily used.

8:00 – Lorraine Laurie. One of the first projects she was involved in him was Crompton Park renovation in 1981. The three best things are the hill, the center, and the pool, and they all come in different parts of the history of the park.

Lorraine also discusses the crime watch. A gentleman reiterates that the crime watch is not just for the high rise.

Lorraine – regarding dogs. Pooper scooper ordinance was put into the dog ordinance. This little old gentleman, Mr. Farmer, brought dog to Elm Park to see his lady friend.

His lady friend or the dog’s? asks someone from the crowd.

Laughs abound.

So, she’s not big on a dog park.

Richie – we used to have a police station right over there.

Rochelle – why in the new plan isn’t there a playground for little kids? What about a toddler playground near the pool? She thinks it’s a great idea. To get out of the pool and all the way over there to the playground seems like a long walk for a parent.

Antonelli – everything is wide open. We can evaluate that location.  Playgrounds are designed for two ages (2-5 and 5-12) – so, in an ideal, we’d have two. And then – how do we separate those? Example at Providence Street.

Haller – Lighting is important, including at the Center, parking

Hannah – Can we let community be part of the building? Would that increase pride/feeling of ownership?

(sorry – running low on battery and may need to quit this soon)

Antonelli – if we’re willing to go down that road (kaBOOM or other), need buy-in from neighborhood groups to implement

(A gentleman asked me how my lunch with Konnie went. I feel famous.  The meeting is over.)