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Parks & Rec addresses Town Common safety concerns

by | Apr 13, 2021 | News

At its meeting Monday night, the Parks & Recreation Department addressed a couple of safety concerns that recently arose at the Hopkinton Town Common.

The first, according to Parks & Rec director Jay Guelfi, was a “Frisbee-sized chunk of brick” at the corner of Ash Street and Main Street that has loosened from the crosswalk there. It was pointed out to him by Department of Public Works director John Westerling.

“John offered to patch it for us and paint it red,” Guelfi said. He called it “a good short-term solution for us in terms of safety” to prevent someone from falling. Concrete would be used for now.

Chair Dan Terry asked if it would prevent it from being re-bricked later, and was told it would not.

“This is a beautiful common,” he said. “That area is absolutely beautiful down there, and I think that that’s the right way to make sure that someone doesn’t trip and break their ankle this weekend. I don’t think it’s a medium-term solution, let alone a long-term solution.”

Terry added that a few years ago there was talk about replacing the granite at the common as a beautification measure.

“We need to address safety,” he said. “But I’m curious as to how this process is going to work.”

Guelfi said he would address “the aesthetic issue” with Westerling during the meeting, because other spots likely will need to be addressed by the town at some point.

Another safety concern Guelfi pointed out were some “dead or dying maple trees” that have limbs that are in danger of breaking. He said he was meeting with Westerling on Tuesday to discuss the limbs’ removal as well as the brick walkway.

“John has offered to prune those for us,” he said, noting that Westerling already had hired a tree removal service for the town at a cost of $8,000 a day for three days across town.

Guelfi and others noted that this is a very reasonable cost, because the usual expense for one tree averages about $1,500.

Terry said his only concern was that the Historical Commission may want to be involved. Member Bob Dobinksky noted that as long as the tree warden is involved in the decision-making process, it would be advisable to take the limbs down.

Trails Committee to resurface College Rock parking lot

Peter LaGoy of the Trails Committee joined the meeting to discuss the resurfacing of the parking lot at College Rock Park. The committee approved the Trails Committee moving forward with the project by a 5-0 vote.

One of the initiatives of the Trails Committee, LaGoy said, is to increase parking at trail heads. Although College Rock Park already has a parking lot, it is “in pretty rough shape,” he said.

“Getting into it is a pretty ginger procedure,” he said, noting there are about six spaces. However the surface needs to be repaved because it is quite rocky.

“It is a relatively quick fix but a relatively painless fix,” LaGoy said. The base would be either crushed concrete or crushed asphalt with an inch or two or of stone dust from Blackstone Valley.

Commission member Cynthia Esthimer asked if the rocks there could be removed. LaGoy said the smaller ones at the entrance could be, but the larger ones probably could not. She also questioned if trees could be taken out for space but was told removing the large ones would be “problematic” by LaGoy.

LaGoy said the Planning Board didn’t need to be consulted about this because no spaces were added, only resurfacing. Only the zoning enforcement officer needed to be consulted, and he gave his consent. The town planner and Planning Board chair Gary Trendel are aware of the project, which will cost about $5,000, according to LaGoy.

Summer activities to return

Guelfi announced that there is renewed enthusiasm for a summer adult softball league. While there is not enough interest for a women’s league, which usually is popular, there might be enough to make it coed. The site is yet to be determined, but Pyne Field (off Fruit Street) was mentioned as a possibility.

Commission member Laura Hanson announced that the Summer Concert Series will be held on the Town Common after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.