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Parks & Rec deals with delays on skate park, pickleball courts, cricket pitch

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Featured: News, News

The Parks & Recreation Commission at its Thursday meeting lauded the success of the first Skateboard & BMX Jam on Nov. 12, saying it will generate enthusiasm for the renovations to the skate park at EMC Park.

But unforeseen delays will postpone its opening potentially until next fall, according to the department director.

“The skateboard jam was a huge, huge success,” Director Jon Lewitus told the commissioners. “We had a recap meeting with everyone about that, and we’re already putting our heads together on the next event, which will happen in the spring.”

While 35 people preregistered for the event, 52 people attended in total, ranging from school-aged children to a 52-year-old. About 80% of the participants live in Hopkinton. Some people spontaneously stopped while driving nearby to join in the fun, according to Lewitus.

Added Lewitus: “It’s looking great for the new park that’s going to be built.”

“It’s awesome that when someone from the community [gets involved], it kind of helps spread the word,” added member Amy O’Donnell. “When the skate park does open, we have community members who are going to advocate for it and keep it clean.”

Hopkinton residents Steve Threlkeld and Kyle Reilly introduced the concept of a mobile skatepark and BMX event in late September. It quickly gained traction.

Chair Dan Terry said the event showcased the power of “grassroots” efforts, calling it “a great process.”

Holding the event at the middle school basketball courts also proved beneficial for both the organizers and the participants, Lewitus said.

Regarding the skate park at EMC Park, Lewitus said delays likely will push the opening back to the summer or fall of 2024.

Terry said the project should not be referred to as the new skate park but rather as the rebuilding of the current Hank Fredette Skate Park. Fredette, a longtime Hopkinton resident, was a former police officer, Water Department superintendent and Select Board member who had a connection with the teens he served. The skate park was named in honor of him after his death from cancer.

“He saw a need for kids who wanted to participate in this sport to do that,” Terry explained. “It wasn’t part of his job responsibility or anything like that. But he went and found a way to get the park that was at EMC Park to be built.”

Added Terry: “I think it would be cool to recognize the grassroots effort that occurred probably in the early ’90s when Hopkinton was a different town.”

Commissioners agreed that Fredette’s name should be retained.

Cricket pitch carpet installation faces delays

The contractor selected to install the carpet for the new cricket pitch cannot work on the project until the spring. Lewitus said he was contacted on the day of the meeting with the news. This contractor previously installed the carpet at the cricket pitch at Victory Field.

“The project has been put on hold again,” he explained. “So we’re sort of back to the drawing board in finding another company.”

Lewitus noted he previously sought bids from five other companies. Four did not respond, while the other one had a fee that was four times the anticipated price of $4,000. On a positive note, Lewitus said it gives the department and commission a chance to review the project specs more thoroughly. Cricket season begins in April, so he hopes the work can begin in early March.

Pickleball court expected to open on May 15

The pickleball/tennis courts planned to be completed within the month has met delays, Lewitus noted. There had been an inspection delay with the basins, which stalled the paving process. Because of the cold weather, the seal coat cannot be applied to the surface until the spring. The courts now are slated to open on May 15, according to Lewitus, when a celebration will take place.

Ski program expands because of acquisition of second bus

Lewitus was able to obtain a second bus for the high school ski club. This allowed the program to expand from 51 to 73 participants and include all students on the waiting list.

The Hopkins and middle school programs have sold out, with similar numbers of students from the past year. If there is more interest next year, extra buses potentially could be hired.

Basketball season kicks off

Lewitus announced that the in-town basketball season kicks off with scrimmages this Saturday for Grades 3-8. Official games will commence the following Saturday. He said enrollment numbers for all age brackets are on pace with last year’s numbers, and the program is “in great shape.”

Advance notice of registration designed to generate interest

Lewitus noted that he will preview the registration dates for spring and summer programming on the department website two weeks early to generate interest and help parents with planning.

Added Lewitus: “My philosophy with program registration — one being a parent — is that I like to see the registration period before it goes live.”

Spring registration will begin on Jan. 17 at 10 a.m., while summer registration will commence on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m.

Town Common request generates concerns amid enthusiasm

Hunter Chaney, director of marketing and communications for the Collings Foundation and American Heritage Museum, requested use of the Town Common on Dec. 28. The proposed event would honor Russ Phipps, a Hopkinton resident and World War II veteran who is turning 102.

Chaney, on behalf of Phipps’s daughter, requested that a Sherman tank be delivered to the Town Common as a backdrop for the celebration. It’s a medium-sized, 30-ton tank that had been used in World War II. The tank would be delivered on a trailer. The event would take about an hour.

Commissioners and Lewitus raised concerns about the weight of the tank potentially damaging the ground and irrigation system. Terry said the lawn may not be able to restore in time for the Boston Marathon, while Lewitus explained that wiring for the holiday lights will be there. They suggested that Chaney look at an alternative site not under Parks & Rec’s purview near the Town Common. A party itself may be “doable,” according to Terry.