At its meeting Wednesday, the Parks & Recreation Commission discussed two upcoming events that will bring new energy to town — Sunday’s first Skateboard/BMX Jam and next Wednesday’s Community Planning Input session.
Julia Chun, the town’s sustainability, economic development and equity project manager, spoke to the commission about placemaking, a central concept that will be explored at next Wednesday’s meeting. This state-funded forum will be held at the Hopkinton Public Library’s lower level as well as virtually from 4:30-7:30 p.m. It is a drop-in event where ideas can be exchanged.
“Placemaking is a process and a design method,” she explained. “It’s a situational intervention that brings cultural elements and social elements into public spaces.”
Through placemaking, residents can share ideas about how to make the town center more walkable and welcoming as a gathering place through activities and beautification projects. Some ideas include murals, plantings and play structures.
Placemaking was first used in the 1960s, according to Chun, as “an overarching strategy to improve local places.” In addition to drawing in residents, businesses and vendors will benefit from increased foot traffic. Placemaking also encourages healthy outdoor activities.
Chun stressed that community input is vital to having the placemaking strategy be successful. The community is becoming more diverse. She is hoping for ideas that will be inclusive of people of all ages, cultures and abilities.
Said Chun: “It’s really important to use these funding opportunities to make space that belongs to everyone in town.”
A nearby example of a successful placemaking area is The Corner Spot in Ashland. Funded by a state grant three years ago, the site hosts open mic nights and movie nights to draw the community together.
As part of her sustainability goal for the town, Chun said that materials that are purchased should be able to be repurposed for different projects or events. Chair Dan Terry said he was “excited” about equipment that could be used by multiple groups for their activities.
Chun will be partnering with Parks & Rec Director Jon Lewitus, Principal Planner John Gelcich and Health Director Shaun McAuliffe on this endeavor.
Terry noted that many times, community groups will be working on similar projects but do not coordinate their efforts. He expressed hope that Chun can help with collaboration of efforts. Chun said part of her role is to “help connect the dots.”
Skateboard/BMX Jam Sunday will promote upcoming EMC skate park
Lewitus expressed excitement about Sunday’s Skateboard/BMX Jam. This event is free, but registration is recommended. For those who do not register in advance, there will be a QR code and paper forms available at the event for those who want to participate.
This will be the first of three such events to take place over the next several months. Parks & Rec is hosting them in collaboration with the Friends of Hopkinton Skate Park and the Hopkinton Freedom Team. The goal is to connect skateboard enthusiasts and make them aware of the upcoming skate park at EMC Park, which is to be completed next year.
Holiday lighting planned
Lewitus said the holiday lights on the Town Common would have to be funded through the department’s revolving account. The amount for last year’s lights, provided by local vendor Under Pressure, cost $9,500. Lewitus also reached out to two other vendors for quotes, but board members were enthusiastic about what Under Pressure did last year.
Terry said he appreciated the “due diligence” exemplified by Lewitus.
The commission voted 4-0 to authorize the chair and director to spend up to $9,500 on holiday lights from an unnamed vendor, comparable to what was done last year.
Kayaking/fishing tournament proposed
Jeremy Andrews of Kayak Team Trail requested the use of the Sandy Beach boat launch for a kayaking/fishing tournament. It would take place Saturday, May 11, from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., with time reserved before and after for setup and cleanup.
The applicant requested use of the bathrooms, but the facilities technically would not be open until two weeks after the event. Lewitus said he would work with Andrews to see if a cleaning fee could be arranged for their use and will check to ensure the water would be turned on.
Andrews said he operates these types of events throughout New England. He expects around 20 participants.
The board approved the request 4-0.
Ongoing project progress outlined
Lewitus said the pickleball/tennis court project at Fruit Street has been delayed. While the paving work was completed by the Department of Public Works, “The weather and the inspection of the retention basins has slowed down the whole process.” The project now is estimated to be completed by the spring.
Planting will be able to be completed this fall, as well as concrete footings the gravel and base for the parking area. …
The middle school ski program has been extremely successful and currently has a waiting list. If that list can grow to 35, Lewitus said he can arrange for a second bus and enroll the additional skiers in the program.
At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, Kathy Gooley was given a volunteer award for running the middle school’s ski program for more than 10 years and continuing to volunteer long after her children left the program. She recently stepped down from this position.
Terry noted that he was impressed that fellow volunteers attended the meeting to celebrate Gooley’s achievement.