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Parks & Rec seeks to set aside spaces at EMC Park lot

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Featured: News, News

At its meeting Tuesday, the Parks & Recreation Commission authorized chair Dan Terry to appear before the Select Board and ask that eight spots in the EMC Park parking lot be designated for one-hour parking only on weekdays in the daytime.

Further, the board would recommend a $40 fine for violating that designation.

The issue is the lack of parking spaces for residents seeking to go to the park/playground because high school students are filling up the lot.

“It’s a big problem, and it needs a big solution,” commissioner Amy O’Donnell said. “Piecemealing solutions are not going to solve it.”

Commission members acknowledged that school lots could not accommodate the number of students needing to park.

Other problems in the lot include people using handicapped spaces where they should not and traffic backups.

“Over there, it’s mass chaos,” O’Donnell said, noting that she had sat in traffic at the site. “There is a traffic jam there with cars all leaving from one entrance and exit, crossing guards — so there is stop and go — and it is almost impossible [to move].”

Commissioners noted the problems are reduced once high school seniors finish classes in May. But with warmer weather, more residents will try to access the playground.

To give the matter “any teeth” from the Parks & Rec side, Terry said getting on the Select Board agenda is one step in a process. ”I hope they see it the way we do,” he said.

Sandy Beach Subcommittee returns

Parks & Rec Director Jon Lewitus said he had a change of heart about dissolving the Sandy Beach Subcommittee. He said he would like to keep it as a subcommittee rather than ad hoc and give recommendations in the next month or so about membership and reporting structure.

Commissioner Seth Kenney, the current subcommittee chair, agreed with that direction but emphasized the need for a clearly defined mission statement and “the boundaries of who is doing what” understood.

Poll on dog park shade structure done

Commissioner Laura Hanson said she informally polled people at the dog park about what they would like to see as a shade structure. “Unanimously, they said they don’t need it for humans. They need it for dogs,” she said.

Hanson said she thought a sails system would work for the dogs to run around underneath.

Residents also asked for an increase in the frequency of sprinklers during the summer.

Lewitus said he intended to get the sprinkler timing issue done after the Boston Marathon. He said he will be able to control it via his cell phone.

Farmers Market matters reviewed

Terry said he had investigated the fees charged for Farmers Market vendors and felt keeping it at $500 would be appropriate as the event is under new leadership and trying to “make a go of it.”

Another issue is a request for Parks & Rec to cover the cost of a portable toilet at Center School. Lewitus said he is looking to get three or four quotes and return in a month with more information.

Discussion followed on whether there is a need for toilets on a case-by-case basis versus contracting for a longer duration.

Terry noted they would have “to think long and hard” before situating them at the Town Common when there are a couple of events per week there.
Hanson added, “The abutters would not like that one bit.”

Reed Park tennis courts revisited

Following up on moving the spring youth tennis program to Soutborough because of the condition of courts at Reed Park, Lewitus said the neighboring community was “all set” with hosting Hopkinton there.

However, Lewitus said the instructor told him he would prefer to stay at Reed Park. The director said he is concerned about the possible tripping hazards and other “unsafe” aspects of the courts.

Hanson said she looked at photos and saw it was in worse shape than a couple of years ago. “It was pretty sketchy,” she said.
Terry asked if the courts could be patched up to make them useable, although he saw “no downside to Southborough.”

“This is not a policy thing,” Terry said to Lewitus. “It is your call.”

The director said he is going to evaluate the situation this week and speak to the instructor again. Most of the participants are returnees, so they will not have trouble finding the courts, which was another concern.

He said his mind is more open to keeping the program at Reed Park if the DPW can make the area safer for players.

Town Common, marathon update given

In other business, the commission approved a request to use the Town Common on Sunday, May 19, in the morning to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month. Sponsors are the South Asian Circle of Hopkinton and Chinese American Association.

SACH’s Charusmitha Ram said the event would feature tai chi and yoga followed by tea and may involve some clubs from the high school.

The board also approved a Boston Marathon vendor: Mark Smith-Brown, who hand-makes custom water bottles.

“It’s a pretty cool addition to vendors selling goods and totally appropriate for the marathon,” Hanson said.

Of the marathon, Lewitus noted that there will be a total of 14 vendors on Saturday with activities like arts and crafts, face painting, cornhole, Jenga and a 100-yard-dash over the weekend.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the director said. “I have learned a lot this [first] year, and we’ll see how it goes.”

The next regular meeting is Tuesday, April 23.

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