GLOCESTER – The Glocester Town Council had high hopes, as did Town Planner Karen Scott, as they reviewed possible improvements to both Glocester Memorial Park and Winsor Park in anticipation of a state grant. But when bids came in for the work, it seems much of what they had hoped for in terms of major improvements had to be temporarily put on the back burner due to unexpected high costs for renovations.
“The cost estimates were high,” Scott told NRI NOW. The, “grants budget could only fit so many projects. Council chose what they thought was best. I’ll keep looking for other funding opportunities for other features in the master plan.”
Scott explained that after careful consideration and planning for the best use of funds, the decision was to pave a quarter mile walking path at Glocester Memorial, which will begin at the Senior Center and circle the field, construct six pickle ball courts and re-stripe the tennis courts at a cost of $125,000. An 18-hole disc golf course will be installed at Winsor Park at a cost of $125,000.
“That’s what $125,000 will buy you,” Scott told the council.
The Planning Department had applied for a $400,000 grant with a $100,000 match and a smaller grant of $100,000 with a $25,000 match from the town. Based on 331 residents’ input to an online survey, along with meetings from various town organizations, such as Little League, senior groups, the recreation department and more, they had come up with a list of additions to the parks. Those included pickle ball courts, playgrounds, skate parks, splash pads, and bocce courts, among other suggestions. Final decisions would be based on construction costs and subsequent maintenance costs, as the Planning Department, considering the council’s input, put together a practical plan for the use of the funds. The survey also showed that most people – some 55 percent – used Glocester Memorial more than once a week, while most people who used Winsor only used it once a week.
Scott explained that it is not only the cost of the infrastructure, but planning and construction management driving the costs as well. When Town Council President William Worthy asked at a recent meeting if it were possible, over the next 10 years, to achieve the master plan for the parks, Scott said, “yes.” She said the grants are made available every two years.
“So things that don’t get in this time, might get in the second time?” asked Worthy.
“For sure,” replied Scott. “The idea was to do one more large investment at Glocester Memorial and a smaller one at Winsor. Then, maybe in two years, do a larger one at Winsor, and maybe do the finishing touches at Glocester Memorial.”
When asked about the potential skate park/ice rink at Glocester Memorial, Scott explained that it was a possibility.
“Potentially, yes,” she said. “We have a concrete pad that could be an ice rink in the winter, and (it’s) up for discussion what it could be in the summer. It could be a place to park food trucks. It could be a place to do outdoor movies, it could be a place to let people ride bikes. We didn’t have any programming on that.”
When asked by Council Vice President Stephen Arnold if there were estimates for that area, Scott said the cost would be about $50,000 just to do the pad.
“I think I’m in the wrong business by the way,” Arnold joked.
Scott also explained the grants don’t allow for upgrading facilities, only for creating new ones. Looking at the long term, she said that they hoped to be able to continue to make improvements as more grants become available. Other additions, like parking, could not be included, leaving those costs up to the town.
When Arnold asked about the possible costs for adding a baseball field to Glocester Memorial, Scott said the estimate was close to $500,000. She explained it involved drainage, as well as upgrading the soil to make it suitable for sustaining grass, in addition to constructing dugouts and other accessories.
One of the planned additions was the construction of bocce courts, an item high on the list for seniors. Arnold asked if that was still a possibility in the near future.
“I’m so sad about that,” said Scott. “$68,000 is the price on the bocce courts right now.”
She explained the reason for the high cost was the price of the crushed stone needed.
“Crushed stone happens to be super high right now, and a bocce court has a lot of crushed stone in it,” she said. “For the walking path, it is cheaper to do asphalt than crushed stone right now.”
“I certainly didn’t anticipate $70,000 for that,” said Arnold.
He noted that officials at the senior center were really looking forward to the addition of the bocce court. Arnold said that maybe they could shift the $125,000 from Winsor to include the court at Glocester Memorial, but it might not be the right thing to do.
Scott said they couldn’t do that anyway, given the requirements of the grant. She explained that in devising the plan, they were trying to include improvements that would cover all age groups as much as possible. That included the walking path. Decisions on the state level, she noted, look for additions that benefit a variety of people, not just one group.
“The walking path, I think I can make a good case for a couple of reasons,” said Scott.
Those reasons included the fact it was a quarter mile track that could be used at any time, by anyone. Though the track at the high school was a quarter mile, it couldn’t be used during school hours.
“This could shift people who wanted to walk for exercise to an area that is not secluded and who don’t feel comfortable going for a walk on the trails, close to Heritage Park, for example,” she said.
That also included those who wished to take strollers and more.
“Hopefully, in a couple of years we can get another grant and then we can get a bocce court,” said Worthy.
“I tried to fit as much as I could in,” said Scott.
“Great work on this,” said Arnold. “I know you poured a billion hours into this.”