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Parks & Rec, schools continue to work on parking issue at EMC Park

by | May 30, 2024 | Featured: News, News

EMC Park signs

Signs indicating short-term parking have been posted at EMC Park in an effort to make sure people who want to use the park during the day can find a spot. PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

Discussions over proposed plans for student parking at EMC Park monopolized Wednesday night’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting.

Hopkinton Public Schools Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Susan Rothermich were on hand to discuss current student parking needs, as well as answer any questions.

“We currently only have the numbers to accommodate our seniors,” Cavanaugh explained.

Due to limited space at the high school, students have been using the EMC Park lot in high numbers. Parks & Rec Department Director Jon Lewitus says this has impacted residents looking to use the park. Lewitus anticipates that signage for two-hour parking spots, which will be installed this week, will resolve some tension.

But even though some parking will open as this year’s seniors graduate, school administration is planning ahead. Cavanaugh outlined a proposal to split its student parking revenues — around $200 per student — with Parks & Rec.

Lewitus voiced his support of this proposal. “It’s our job to maintain the EMC playground,” he said. “This money would go right back into the park.”

The rest of the commission’s sentiments were mixed.

“Philosophically, does it make sense to essentially transfer money from one [town] department to another?” asked chair Dan Terry.

Terry also pointed to issues with the potential revenue at stake.

“It doesn’t give a clear picture of what it costs to run a playground,” he added.

Lewitus informed Terry he was gathering information on the park’s annual expenses to compare with the potential income. But he noted that without this income source, he would need to find additional revenue streams.

Member Amy O’Donnell also voiced her concerns.

“Kids will still go and park [there] if we cannot find them the permitted spots,” she said. “Just charging for the parking lot doesn’t change the problem.”

Despite disagreements about the solution to student parking, the commission was open to pursuing the arrangement further.

Lewitus mentioned that the number of spots that could be made available for students was not yet clear. Construction of a new skate park at EMC Park will affect the availability of parking spots in the fall.

“We have to understand what the construction company is going to want in terms of a staging area for their work,” Terry added.

The commission agreed to discuss a provisional number of spots that could be provided and revisit the issue once construction is complete.

Pyne Field redesign project revitalized

Lewitus brought the commission up to speed on plans to restart the Pyne Field redesign project. The redesign features an updated baseball field and cricket pitch, along with a parking lot.

The Commission reviewed existing plans drawn up by consulting firm Gale Associates to gather thoughts on the design and any preferences in terms of project scope.

During the review, the commission took public comments. Amy and Josh Brassard, who own and operate J.B. Sawmill and Land Clearing, expressed concerns over the proposed parking layouts. Trucks from their company travel past the field en route to the company’s location in the back of the property.

“There’s no need to have hundreds of people crossing [the road],” Josh Brassard said. The Brassards assert these plans put pedestrians at risk from tractor-trailers traveling to and from their sawmill.

Terry noted the Brassards’ concerns but explained this was not the right forum for safety concerns. Lewitus reiterated that this meeting was limited to opening dialogue on restarting the project.

In discussion with the board, Lewitus agreed to approach the Planning Board and other town officials to start discussing next steps.

Pickleball courts first come, first served until September

The commission briefly touched on policies and procedures for the new pickleball and tennis courts off Fruit Street.

New member Kyle Smith asked for clarification on court usage times, citing common usage problems at other pickleball facilities. Lewitus explained that as of Friday, the new courts would be first come, first served until September.

“We’re going to figure out the demand first,” he said. “But come fall, we will have a whole new set of rules in terms of lines, wait lists, programs and open play hours,” he added.

Parks & Rec intends to use tools like feedback forms accessed by QR codes to gather usage data. Lewitus will bring that information back to the Commission and review it before voting on court rules.

Lewitus also reminded the commission that the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fruit Street courts is Friday at 3 p.m. He encouraged members to attend alongside Community Preservation Committee representatives.

Sandy Beach Subcommittee amends mission statement

Member Laura Hanson provided updates from the Sandy Beach Subcommittee.

She informed the commission that the subcommittee met last week to formalize its mission and goals. She read through the group’s provisional mission statement and responded to questions from other commission members.

Terry and Lewitus brought up concerns over some of the stated goals. Hanson agreed to amend the mission statement to better align the subcommittee and more clearly define its structure. Lewitus agreed to speak to the town clerk about the organizational framework that should be used and report back to the commission.

Town Common requests spark debate

Kavita Bandal of RazzMaTazz Event Group requested use of the Town Common on June 15 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for a shopping festival. Beyond vendors, the event also will feature either a live band or DJ.

“It’s along the same lines of PolyArts,” Bandal explained. “The goal is to showcase handmade goods, food items and crafts from local vendors.” Fifteen vendors have signed up to participate.

Terry expressed concerns that the request appeared to be on short notice.

“When we put the 10 vendors on the Common for the [Boston] Marathon, we debated over that for a while,” he said.

Bandal explained that she had attempted to bring up her request in previous meetings and had been communicating with Lewitus about the event. Lewitus confirmed these facts with the commission.

Bandal’s request sparked a larger discussion over Town Common use. O’Donnell remarked that requests for using the Common had increased in recent months. “If we’re renting out the Common every weekend, are we stepping away from what the Common was designed for?” she asked.

Hanson expressed interest in Bandal’s event but made note that the commission did not allow the last request for an event of this size.

The commission voted and agreed to let Bandal hold her group’s event if a vendor list is provided for review. Terry also stressed the need for better policies and procedures when it comes to Town Common requests.

“The Common is a quiet place for the town to use,” he said. “If we’re going to shut it down, we need to really discuss it.”

2 Comments

  1. Beth Kelly

    The Town Common is in a RESIDENTIAL zoned area. Parks and Rec cannot allow the organization Razzmstaz, a COMMERCIAL venture, to use the Town Common for an all day event on June 15.
    It is important for the Town of Hopkinton to enforce its zoning laws.

    Reply
  2. Beth Malloy

    I’d love to see more going on at the common on weekends. It’s a great way to bring the community together. There are 5 other days to enjoy the common. Why would Parks& Recs. ‘Split’ the cost of the parking. They should get the whole $200. If the school doesn’t have enough spots the kids can take the bus.

    Reply

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