Southwick CPC to vote on park funding

SOUTHWICK – The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will vote tonight on funding just over $1 million in projects at Whalley Park. If approved, residents will have the opportunity to vote on using CPC funds for the project at the fall Town Meeting Oct. 10.
The committee was supposed to take action on the request, which was made jointly by the Southwick Parks and Recreation Commission and Board of Selectmen, last week. CPC member Dennis Clark said he still had several questions about the project he wanted answered before voting.
Clark and Parks and Rec Commissioner Kelly Magni, along with Atty. Ben Coyle, met yesterday with selectmen to discuss more details of the remaining projects at the park. John and Kathy Whalley donated the 70-acre park to the town. The park includes several ball fields, a playscape and more.
There are still several items not yet complete and the group outlined who is responsible for them last night. The Whalleys have agreed to fund a pavilion at $150,000-$200,000, water fountains, shade trees, youth baseball field at $150,000, guardrails at $10,000, and signage.
Items that would be the responsibility of the town include lighting of the roadway and fields, remaining work at fields other than the baseball field, and paving. Selectmen Chairman Arthur Pinell asked if the list provided was in lieu of a letter from the Whalleys.
“This is what he committed to us,” said Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart.
The items the town would pay for total just over $1.1 million. The main questions asked by Clark and members of the select board centered on maintenance costs.
“The goal is to keep maintenance costs under $50,000 a year,” said Selectwoman Tracy Cesan.
Cesan said that figure is consistent with the funds the Whalleys pledged for maintenance. The couple will give the town $100,000 for two years of park maintenance with the assumption that the park will generate enough funds to sustain itself beyond that.
Cesan helped compile an estimated maintenance budget, which includes two seasonal employees working 18 hours per week or less at $12-$15 per hour. The Finance Committee researched the cost of maintenance by gathering data from the school department. It asked how much they spend to maintain fields of comparable size and was given a figure of nearly $100,000.
Cesan said that figure includes two 40-hour full-time employees at $22 per hour. She said Whalley Park, in the beginning at least, would not need that kind of manpower.

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