Grafton Questions Future Location Of New Super Park

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The former Grafton Super Park was torn down to make way for Grafton High School. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi (file photo)

GRAFTON, Mass. - Grafton selectmen asked the Super Park Study Committee to re-evaluate its choice of an empty Worcester Street lot for the park's new home, suggesting the Perrault property or Norcross Park as more suitable locations.

The request came just seven months after selectmen unanimously supported the committee's recommendation of 25 Worcester St., vacant for more than 30 years since the school on the property was torn down.

"I would like to at least see why these locations aren't good," Selectman John Dowling said, referring to the Perrault property next to the Grafton Public Library and Norcross Park.

Super Park, formerly located on Providence Road, was torn down during the construction of the new Grafton High School. For the past two years, the committee has been examining possible locations as well as playground designs that would make the structure accessible to children of all abilities.

Town Meeting last fall approved Community Preservation funding for a $34,000 master plan for the project. The committee expects to return to Town Meeting this fall with a full plan, including costs and a site plan.

The Super Park Study Committee hopes to do fundraising to offset the costs of the park, Chairman Michael Scully said.

Selectman Peter Adams, who had questioned but approved the Worcester Street site for the park, suggested the parcel may be among those considered for a new Department of Public Works. The site is one of only a few town-owned parcels in the center of town and had once been considered for the new fire station as well as affordable housing.

"We just can't keep going forward, stop, question," said George Prunier, a member of the study committee. "At some point, we just have to go ahead with this park."

Failing to action on a park designed to be handicap-accessible may leave the town open to a lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act, said Cynthia Levine, chairman of the Commission on Disability.

"We could be in another situation similar to the library if we don't do this in the near future," she said. The Grafton Public Library is now under the gun to fix accessibility issues that would have been addressed by a failed expansion plan.

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Comments (29)

AladdinsLamp:

Sorry, my mistake, the pending litigation is with Pulte not Toll.

AladdinsLamp:

I understand the new super park has a price tag above $1 million. Maybe the Selectmen would like to defer the May town meeting vote and that's why they are re-questioning the location.
If I remember out loud I think the Selectmen have put the town on the hook for big $ repairs at the municipal center and they might need some reserve $ if things don't add up the way they claimed.

Grafton SuperPark:

Hi AladdinsLamp,

Not sure where you heard the astronomical $1million dollar figure for SuperPark but it certainly wasn't from us. While that would certainly build a Super Super Super Park, it is not our recommendation that is anywhere close to that figure. Our hope is that through private fundraising, grants and alternate funding sources, the final investment will be much much lower. For future reference, if you hear a number that didnt come from us, then consider it to be false. Lots of numbers are being thrown around by many, some of whom have other motives. The only source that can provide an accurate number is the Grafton SuperPark Committee -- and that will be after we receive design plans and renderings from our landscape architect later this year.

We do not intend to be presenting at the May town meeting, our next step is to submit an RFP for a Landscape Architect to begin developing a Site plan for the future SuperPark. It is our hope that after a successful summer of fundraising and some design work by the architect, we will have a design and cost estimate to present at the Fall Town meeting.

Hopefully the Board can find the generosity to not just repair and build in upgrades to a single building but also replace the torn down Grafton SuperPark for all the children of Grafton.

Join our growing group of supporters by going to our website:
www.GraftonSuperPark.com

AladdinsLamp:

I'll wait and see if I heard wrong about the $. But in reading deeply between the lines here, I think there is a Toll Brothers legal settlement that could make Providence Rd a potential site for low income housing.

Danally:

Is it possible to incorporate equipment that young adults and older residents can utilize as well as the kids? Things such as: Pull up bars, Balance planks for plyometrics, Incline / Decline planks for abs, Monkey Bars / ladders and such. I would love to see some of the town parks start to include things like this so people of all ages can be active in nice weather without always having to be indoors and having to pay a membership fee. As a previous personal trainer, I believe activity and exercise is vital and good for everyone and it brings the community closer as a result. The New Park in South Grafton has more than enough space for things like this, which would allow people to use the park to it's fullest potential.

Grafton SuperPark:

Danally,

While it is certainly possible to incorporate additional fitness stations in a larger park and playground setting, it is not something that is currently part of the scope of our effort. Physical fitness is certainly important to all of us and we would love to see that incorporated in a future phase. Our recommended site of 25 Worcester Street would certainly have the room for growth for something like this in the future.

I believe the park in SG is designed to be open community or common space for gatherings, concerts in the park etc and not intended to be a playground. Our hope is to build something better than the many small parks scattered throughout town that are in various stages of disrepair and are not fully accessible. In order to serve the largest number of Grafton residents, we hope to have it centrally located and in a very visible and safe location.

Please consider writing a letter to the editor or to the Board of Selectmen supporting our site selection and your interest in additional uses of the SuperPark and bringing it to an even larger number of residents.

Join our supporters by going to our website: www.GraftonSuperPark.com

Spl01519:

I think part of the issue is that at one point we had a park that was...well...Super, and now we don't. The other parks, those came after the fact, but they were bought. The Superpark was this quirky weird thing, built by donations and town sweat, larger than life so when your little kid walks in and sees it for the first time, the imagination goes into overload. It had large slides, it had bridges, it had places to hide. It had character that no pre-made, mass produced play system can reproduce. My kids enjoy any of the town playgrounds, but the Superpark was the one they always asked to go to. So really, it isn't a lack of having playgrounds in town, I think it is that something that was unique to the town was taken away. Also, the fact that there are a lot of parents with memories as kids using the Superpark, I think there is def some nostalgia there as well, us wanting our kids to experience what we experienced as kids.

Grafton SuperPark:

Spl01519 - Well said. We feel the same way, nostalgic for the original SuperPark, "built by donations and town sweat" and we hope to bring that same "larger than life" experience to the next generation. It is unfortunate that the town displaced the original superpark to make way for the new high school but we are seeing this as an opportunity to rebuild in a bigger, safer and more accessible way.

Go to our website to join our team of supporters:
www.GraftonSuperPark.com

Graftonbadboy:

I have somewhat of a Novel idea.. they just built a park in South Grafton along 122A, there is plenty of space to put a super park. Oh but wait.. I don't think the people from North Grafton would approve of that..

Grafton SuperPark:

Hi Graftonbadboy,

The park space in SG was designed to be community common space for events, concerts, etc. I do not believe the South Grafton Park Committee ever intended to have a playground be part of the property.

Certainly 122A is also a good visible spot, but not centrally located. This is not about South Grafton vs. North Grafton, this is about rebuilding the Grafton SuperPark in a single central location for all the children of Grafton regardless of ability to be able to play together at one park. Let's give the next generation of Grafton what many of us had, a SuperPark!

Please feel free to submit your feedback or ideas at our website
www.GraftonSuperPark.com

Chris L.:

I live in N. Grafton, and I think South Grafton would be a fine spot. Then again, I didn't grow up in town. I understand there's a "history" between north and south?

tmsm:

I don't know much about town history, but basically south is poor compared to north.

Mr. Ed:

Wasn't there an issue of possible soil contamination at the Perrault location?

Chris L.:

Does the whole playground have to be ADA accesible, or just part of it? I want all kinds of kids to have fun play activities, but will items be excluded to be "fair"?
When I was a kid, I went to play on an accesible playground, and it was inclusive but frankly LAME. A lot of it was just ramps. How do we strike that balance of being inclusive, but still inviting and challenging for kids of all abilities?
Also, I tend to think of "town needs" as the things that should get public funding. This to me seems like a great idea, but honestly a "nice-to-have". Why can't it be built by donations and donated labor? I helped build a community playground like the Superpark when I was a kid. I just don't see why it has to be a regular old tax-funded, contractor built project. The old donation-style method builds a playground and community at the same time.

Grafton SuperPark:

Hi Chris L.,
We are certainly not experts on the laws around accessibility but according to our playground consultant (who is an expert), a certain portion of the "play" elements must be reachable by those with accessibility challenges. Both elevated and ground level play elements must meet a certain ratio.

We want the new Grafton SuperPark to be inclusive and not exclude anyone of any ability and that does not mean building a watered down "lame" playground. While it does mean including ramps and properly managing grade changes and surfaces, we want this park to be built in the spirit of the original SuperPark, fort-like, unique, part of the landscape and inclusive. To accomplish all of these goals, it means selecting high quality, modern materials that will last a long time rather than wear out in a few years. Striving to be an inclusive park and meeting those minimums is not low cost but it is an investment in the lives of children of all abilities.

Accessible playgrounds are not just "nice-to-have", they are necessary to have to be inclusive and not be in violation of Accessibility laws as spoken to at last nights meeting by the chair of the Grafton Commission on Disabilities.

We do hope to be able to raise funds through donations from the community and from local businesses. We will be applying for grants to help offset the costs as well. Unlike the SuperPark built many many years ago with donated materials and donated labor, in order to meet current needs, a modern structure with safe materials is necessary. When the time comes, we intend to have a massive volunteer effort to assist with building the new SuperPark but because of its size, we will still need some professional contract labor who are experienced in this type of project.

We welcome your feedback and ideas. Anything you can help us with in regards to raising the funds needed would be greatly appreciated.

Go to our website to submit your ideas:
www.GraftonSuperPark.com

Chris L.:

Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful answer. "Lame" maybe wasn't the best word for me to use as it is very subjective depending on the age and ability of the person using the playground. Your answer certainly makes me feel more confident about this project.

StevieP65:

It's funny. I had no idea what the street address was. But when thinking "Where would be a good spot to put a new Super Park?" that location on Worcester Street up-hill and across the street from the old state police barracks came immediately to mind.

It's central. It's big enough. It's otherwise un-used as near as I can tell.

Just add a parking lot and build the park! Let's get this done!!

What is the big un-answered question here?

Dura Mater:

would you want your kids crossing Worcester St there to get to the Super Park? (talking about the kids who will be walking to the park)

StevieP65:

As the SuperPark person said, crossing the street will be a potential issue ANYWHERE you want to put it.

I'd venture that 99% of the kids who would use any Super Park would be driven there by their parents. The other 1% might walk or ride their bikes there.

Grafton SuperPark:

Hi Dura Mater:

Children crossing streets is always a concern regardless of location. No matter where a park is located, there will be children crossing streets. Our recommended location of 25 Worcester Street was once a school in which many children I am sure walked to that location. It is not much different from the original location near the high school.

Grafton benefits from having two major routes converge in town (122 and 140). The original SuperPark had a great location, in a very visible spot, off of 122, near a school, with sidewalks, off-street parking and fences for safety. Our final plan for the rebuilding of SuperPark will incorporate every possible consideration for both the safety of the children and the protection of the town's investment in the equipment. We have already met with the Police Chief and the traffic safety committee regarding the selected location and will continue to do so as plans become more complete and available.

The original SuperPark was designed as a destination park for all of Grafton, in that it was centrally located where a majority of the residents who utilized it on a regular basis, drove from all the corners of the town, south, north and central. Our intent is to design and locate the new Superpark in a similar way, centrally located, easily accessible, highly visible, and non wooded area and primarily accessible via a walkway along the parking lot. It is not intended to have a gate open out to the roadway, the entrance will be from an internal pathway so as to provide the most possible buffer between gates and the road. Once we have a full site plan from a landscape architect we will be able to demonstrate all of the safety precautions that we are incorporating into the new SuperPark. It will be Super not just because of being modern or its size, it will be super because it is all inclusive and safe.

Do you have ideas on how to help make the new SuperPark be the best it can be and safe for our kids? Go to our website and share your ideas. www.GraftonSuperPark.com

Grafton SuperPark:

Hi StevieP65:

This is exactly what we thought as well. We thought all the questions had been asked and answered months ago. It is great that Grafton has many parks throughout the many parts of town, but they are all in various stages of repair and are limited in features. Our hope is to have a single centrally located park for all the children of Grafton regardless of ability to be able to play together at one park. Let's give the next generation of Grafton what many of us had, a SuperPark!

Go to our website to sign up as a supporter:
www.GraftonSuperPark.com

grommit:

Wow...strange BoS meeting. I'm trying to figure out what was going on.
Yes, there is value in examining committee decisions. But all of this was done months ago, wasn't it? Am I missing something? Why are Mr. Dowling and Mr. Adams just now starting to ask questions? Why did they vote unanimously in favor of the Worcester Street site? Why are they challenging the will of Town Meeting to go ahead with the site plan. Did they think they were voting for something else? Were they not paying attention back then? What changed in the interim? Is it that Mr. Padgett was absent for this discussion?
My gosh...we've all seen those court room TV shows where the Judge says "asked and answered...move along". These questions were asked months ago, and answered in detail by the Super Park committee. Major kudos to Super Park committee reps for not losing their cool.
As for the DPW building...are these BoS members aware of what the DPW building committee is doing? Do they want the DPW to spend money on a new building at a new site? We're putting the old oil tank above ground, with new controls...Is this all in preparation for the big move?. What will they do with the old building on the old site? Are the BoS members examining the DPW meeting minutes (assuming they can find them)? Will the DPW bring forward a "done deal" with only one option (build or else)?

Voice of Reason:

Grommit. I think everyone agrees the DPW building needs to at the top of the list for capital improvement projects. It's a wonder the building hasn't been shut down at this point. A few years ago, a dedicate group of Grafton residents reviewed some 80+ parcels in town and came up with two that were feasible to build on. When the sites were further examined, the current DPW site was rendered too challenging to build or renovate on and also conduct the business of the DPW; there's too much wetlands to adequately do both. So the site being further explored is not an all or nothing, rather the result of many, many hours volunteered to determine what is feasible for the town and it's taxpayers.
That said, it is a head scratching situation, when Mr. Adams - who sits on the current DPW Building Committee, claims that the Worcester Street parcel should not be used for the Super Park as it's in consideration for the DPW.

grommit:

Hello Voice...thanks for the response. But, here's the problem: 80+ sites were reviewed: Where is that information? Who did the reviews? Was that reported? Is it documented? I try to pay attention to where my tax dollars are going, but I cannot find any of this information anywhere. I will definitely vote for things that make sense for the town, even if I do not directly benefit (the new high school, the new police station, the new fire station, the new super park...geez...that's a lot!). For many months, the current DPW Building Committee failed to publish meeting minutes. I just happened to chat with Mr. Adams at a public meeting last Summer, and learned about their direction of buying land near the Pike and constructing a new building. Is this true?
I respect the time and effort every committee puts into their charges. But there is a need for just a bit more transparency. Do you agree?

northboundtrain:

That Worcester Street parcel is not suitable for a DPW yard for a whole litany of reasons--and Peter Adams knows it. Housing has long been discussed there and makes much more sense. Why not both? Time to get creative: The town should put out an RFP to see if a developer is willing to build a couple of affordable units--and set aside room for the SP.

John B:

Why the super park is separate from the other playgrounds has been a puzzle for me. I do believe it has been a separate funding issue.
I would love to see an upgrade of the other playgrounds in the town. A set of swings and one climbing structure does not cut it.

Chris L.:

I think it does cut it... the current parks are fine. Kids have imaginations, or at least they used to. It might not look like much to us adults, but it doesn't need to. Parents might be impressed by toys that flash or talk, but my son likes a plain old stuffed animal or blocks just as much.
I think the best thing about the current parks is that they are spread out so that residents can walk to their neighborhood park. I think that encourages physical activity and could help strengthen community connections. I've only seen the playgrounds in North Grafton, though, so I can't speak for the rest of the town.

Chris L.:

While I like the current neighborhood parks, I should also clarify that I do think an additional Superpark is a good idea.

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