Several councilors at Monday night’s meeting of the City Council expressed concerns about the present conditions at Seven Acre Park as well as the future renovation plans for the site.
“I have heard from a number of people who cannot walk the park because of dogs running around off leashes,” Councilor Sal Sachetta told his colleagues. “This is a memorial park that people paid to have bricks on the walkways with names of families on them,” he added.
Sachetta went on to say how difficult it was especially under present circumstances to get into the park due to snow and ice. “Right now I have to go down a steep incline to get into the park,” he said.
Other councilors also expressed similar concerns about the present use of the park by dog owners.
“This is a walk park for people and should also be used as a walk for dogs,” Councilor Rosa DiFlorio said.
Executive Director of Planning and Development James Errickson, who was also in attendance at the meeting, was asked to address these concerns. He mentioned that Chief of Police Steven Mazzie and Inspector of City Service James Soper were meeting on Tuesday about the problem of unleashed dogs in the park.
Errickson then told the councilors about the process for the renovation of the park. He mentioned how the park is presently confined to a passive use, but plans call for the park to be changed to an active use by adding a track and four tennis courts.
Councilor Peter Napolitano questioned the change in the use. “A track is not a passive use,” he said. “I am concerned that we do not short cut something to expedite the use,” he added.
Errickson assured the councilors that soil testing would be done in the spring. Presently, city officials have schematic plans, but design plans will start being put together that show the proposed track and tennis courts. He noted that this phase of the process will take about six to nine months with public hearings planned for community input. After a final plan is developed, bids could go out and construction could start in early spring 2015 if no major problems develop at the site.
Seven Acre Park is located on Air Force Road behind Santilli Highway . The site was formerly owned by General Electric and is classified as a brownfield. City officials acquired the land about seven years ago and at that time capped the site by adding fresh dirt to the site giving the appearance of a rolling hill. This cleanup process allowed the land to be used only as a passive site. The renovation cost for the park could be as much as $5 million, “but this is on the high side,” Errickson said.