Stanley Park bridge project allowed

WESTFIELD – The Conservation Commission adopted findings last night that will allow replacement of an existing bridge across a pond at Stanley Park.
Park director Robert C. McKean said the existing bridge, called the International Bridge, is an arched bridge, architecture that creates a safety concern.
“A lot of people, children, even park staff, trip and fall on it,” McKean said. “That arch structure is difficult for some people. The bridge is (structurally) safe, but we want to make it safer.”
McKean said the existing deck will be removed and a new deck installed on the existing piers.
“We want to make it more accessible, remove the wood, make it flat and put up railings,” McKean said. “The existing bridge is 29 feet (long) and the new bridge will be exactly the same length. The support pillars will remain the same, but will be reinforced.”
Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Henry Bannish question McKean on the materials that will be used for the reconstruction project, asking specifically if the new span will be constructed of pressure-treated lumber.
“No, we plan to use the same materials used throughout the park,” McKean said.
McKean said the bridge project was designed by Rob Levesque of R. Levesque Associates, who is a member of the Stanley Park Board of Directors. The plans submitted to the Conservation Commission for review are dated March 1, 2013.
Commissioner Robert Natario asked McKean to describe the work sequence, if any of the work would be done in the resource area of the pond and what conditions could be set to mitigate environmental impact, such as controlling silt in the pond.
“We don’t intend to be in the water,” McKean said.
Commission Chairman Dr. David Doe said that he is familiar with the existing bridge and that it is above a concrete weir.
“There is no muck below the bridge,” Doe said, “it’s concrete.
Conservation Coordinator Karen Leigh said the a net will be suspended under the existing span and will remain in place during the reconstruction work.
Doe also questioned McKean about repair to a bridge, on the walking trail in the Stanley Park Wildlife Sanctuary, that was damaged during flooding of Little River in 2011.
McKean said that a company, which has repaired other walking trail bridges in the past, was hired last year to repair the bridge, but that work was not done because of bad weather.
“It is in the process of being done this year,” McKean said.
The Commission found that the bridge project does not fall under the state Wetlands Protection Act, but is subject to the City’s Wetland Protection Ordinance.
In other business, the commission rejected a petition to consider amending its orders of conditions attached to the McDonald’s Restaurant reconstruction project. McDonald’s USA, LLC, plans to demolish and rebuild its restaurant at 299 East Main Street this spring.
The owner of the abutting property, George Abdow, said that the litter is pushed onto the property of the former Abdow’s/Bickford’s restaurants property by a western wind and that a fence is needed to prevent the migration of trash and to stop McDonald’s customers from parking on Abdow’s property and walking into the restaurant.
The Conservation Commission approved a condition prohibiting any type of fence because the area is prone to flooding. The board members expressed concern that any fence would become a dam as debris was washing into and trapped by the fence structure.
Abdow asked, in written communication, if the commission would allow any fence, such as a post-and-rail style fence and if the board would amend the order of conditions.
However, last night the commission members were unanimous in their decision not to amend the order of condition and allow a fence.
“Any fence is a barrier,” Dr. James Phillips said. “to some degree an impediment” to movement of flood water.
Commissioner James R. Murphy said “I don’t see any reason to change the order of conditions.”

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