The Parks & Recreation Commission at its 80-minute meeting Thursday evening voted 4-0 to endorse a capital grant proposal to fund manual gates at Sandy Beach in order to increase security there.
Commissioner Cynthia Esthimer has been serving as a member of an ad hoc committee that previously analyzed the beach for safety concerns regarding parking and the condition of the dock. The biggest issue over the past couple of summers has been the lack of security gates, she noted.
The committee had been deliberating over whether electric or manual gates would be preferable, Esthimer said. She mentioned a “$25,000 opportunity put forward by the town manager” where residents or groups could apply for funding for a project “that falls in the alignment and goals of the town vision.” The application, she noted, is due by Jan. 30.
Gates are needed at the entrance and exit to Sandy Beach’s parking lots because “we have quite a circus in the summer,” Esthimer said.
Parks & Recreation Director Jay Guelfi said he observed people last summer dropping people off at the entrance. They would then be loitering around the gate and waiting until the attendant was occupied and “just kind of shuffle in.”
The initial option proposed was for electronic gates with a token or similar system, but this idea has been put aside for now, Esthimer explained. This would allow the committee time to draft a proposal for funding from the Community Preservation Committee that would not only incorporate these gates but also include renovations to the parking lot.
Guelfi explained that a CPC request would have to go before Town Meeting in 2024 if approved. The gate system may not be able to be implemented by that Memorial Day because there is only a two-week window between Town Meeting and the holiday. The parking lot most likely would need to be regraded and resurfaced after an engineering study, he noted.
Another idea Esthimer suggested doing now is requesting $5,000 for two 20-foot-long manual-lift gates. They could either be operated by parking lot attendants or raised and lowered by beachgoers.
Sabine St. Pierre of the Lake Maspenock Preservation Association told the commission that the biggest concern is at the exit. While attendants have been occupied selling and verifying the beach parking passes, people have been parking down the street and sneaking into the exit area, she explained.
“A lot of people are bypassing having to pay,” she said, noting that some people are non-residents at the resident-only beach.
St. Pierre said an electronic gate would make sense at the exit because no one would have to man it.
“At least it’s deterring all this traffic from coming in,” she said. “I think the more official we start looking down there, the more we can deter it.”
Commission chair Dan Terry noted that gate monitors would be needed primarily on weekends and holidays. Guelfi explained that a new position that had not been budgeted for this year would have to be created. The cost would be about $1,920 for the summer.
“We need to get incremental improvements down there,” Terry said.
Commissioner Amy O’Donnell said “the best route now” would be a manual system for $5,000. This would allow the department and commission time to better analyze what would be the most effective system.
St. Pierre volunteered to submit to the request to the Town Hall, noting that she would be submitting it as a resident. She also is an LMPA officer and a member of the ad hoc committee. The committee voted to endorse St. Pierre’s request 4-0.
Said Terry: “It’s somewhere between a baby step and a bigger step.”
Pickleball, Pyne updates provided
Guelfi gave an update on the public pickleball courts slated to be built off of Fruit Street on Pratt Way, across from the dog park. He noted that he spoke with Principal Planner John Gelcich, who explained that a site plan review would need to be done as soon as possible because the parking lot will have 28 spaces. The site plan would require approval from the Planning Board.
At the next meeting, Guelfi said he will present sign designs that will be used to direct people to where the various sports areas are located.
At nearby Pyne Field, also off Fruit Street, Gale Associates has agreed to do the design and estimate for the parking lot there, Guelfi said. A parking study will cost about $4,000, he said. Terry noted that the CPC has a $50,000 administrative fund, which could provide the money for the project. Guelfi said he will submit a formal request to the CPC.
Jigsaw puzzle competition popular
The inaugural “It’s a Puzzler” team jigsaw puzzle competition held at the Hopkinton Senior Center on Sun. Jan. 15 was a great success, Guelfi said. There was a waiting list for the sold-out event, which prompted him to propose holding the event every couple of months depending on public demand. Fourteen groups attended, and Guelfi said he hoped to expand it to 20 at a spring competition.
He noted that there were two types of teams participating: those who took the competition very seriously and others who enjoyed the opportunity to hang out.
“We had several tables where there were three generations of families,” he said, adding that the event attracted new residents and elders.
The Beck family won, completing the puzzle in 33 minutes and 33 seconds.
Misc.: Summer registration set to open
Guelfi announced that registration for summer programming will open Feb. 1. There will be positions open for lifeguards. For more information, visit hopkintonma.myrec.com. …
A permit request from the HOP (Hopkinton Organizing for Prevention) Coalition and Hopkinton Family Services was approved 4-0. The groups plan to use the entire Town Common for the annual Recovery Day on Sept. 26 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. …
The next Parks & Rec meeting will be held Feb. 16 at 5:30.