Selectboard approves CPC application

SOUTHWICK – The Board of Selectmen last night unanimously approved proceeding with a Community Preservation application for just over $1.1 million to complete work at Whalley Park.
The board is a co-applicant for the funds with the Parks and Recreation Commission. The commission worked with architect R. Levesque Associates and park donors John and Kathy Whalley to whittle down the cost of the remaining projects, which was over $2 million just a few months ago.
The Whalleys donated the nearly complete, 70-acre park to the town. The town has not yet assumed ownership of the property. While the remaining projects have been discussed over the past two months, the Whalleys have continued to do work on the park, which has resulted in fewer projects for the town to complete.
“I fully support it at this point,” said Selectmen Chairman Arthur Pinell.
Pinell said when the Whalleys first came to the board with schematic designs for the park, he “thought it was great.”
“And I still do,” he said. “I think what’s being presented is an exceptional opportunity.”
Selectman Russell Fox agreed.
“I think it’s a great project for Southwick,” said Fox. “The numbers are there – let’s go for it.”
Fox did say he has some questions about maintenance he would like answered moving forward.
Whalley had pledged $100,000 to maintain the park for the next few years. His plan has always been for the park to generate enough money to pay for maintenance and more.
“You won’t need any money for the first two to three years with the money we’re putting up front,” Whalley said, noting that he ordered the pavilion for the park and will pay for its construction.
Parks and Recreation Chairman Kelly Magni said it’s a good deal.
“We’re at a manageable number.  We’re within the budget. We have some maintenance things to work out, but with the money John and Kathy are putting up for maintenance, we have two years to work it out,” Magni said.
The question not being answered right now is what happens if Town Meeting voters do not approve spending the CPC funds.
Selectwoman Tracy Cesan said there needs to be an aggressive approach to educating voters on the park and the projects the $1.1 million will fund, which includes field lighting, shade trees and sidewalks, among others. She suggested hosting public forums where presentations could be made in order to inform residents.
The CPC will take up the application at its Aug. 23 meeting and the board will discuss its plans moving forward at its Aug. 27 meeting.

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