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Parks & Recreation planning begins for pre-marathon use of Town Common

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Parks & Recreation Commission at its Jan. 23 meeting began discussions on the use of the Town Common the week before the Boston Marathon, as well as weekend activities with local vendors.

The 128th Boston Marathon will take place April 15. This year, Hopkinton will be celebrating its centennial of hosting the start of the historic race.

Boston Athletic Association representatives Dan Satchell and Andrew Deschenes presented a request to use the Town Common from April 8-16, as well as their planned layout for tents and equipment. The request was approved by a 4-0 vote.

Deschenes noted that the 100th anniversary of the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton likely would prompt town activities on the Town Common on the weekend preceding the marathon. There was concern last year that local vendors were not allowed to use the common.

To remedy this, Deschenes said he moved a tent away from the gazebo to “open up the area.” He also allocated space for potential vendors. There were two tent configurations proposed — one for the weekend and the other for April 15.

In addition to opportunities for vendors, Parks & Rec Director Jon Lewitus described public viewing areas as “a hot topic” in town.

Deschenes said he did not know the current start structure, noting that last year that it was large and blocked the view of race spectators on Marathon Way. This year’s structure should be “smaller and lower.”

Parks & Rec program coordinator Colleen Allen suggested that a viewing area for locals cheering on family and friends running the race be opened up once the elite runners pass. Deschenes said that it might be challenging to change the setup midstream, but it was worth discussing.

Vendors on race day would “make a little more sense” than they did last year, according to Satchell. They would feature coffee and pastries on the morning of the race rather than hot dogs.

Lewitus proposed vendors and entertainers using the Town Common from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday before the Monday race, but the time is flexible and could be extended.

“I think this is a step back in the right direction,” said chair Dan Terry. “It feels like we’re being heard.”

Responded Deschenes: “I very much see the Hopkinton side of this; I really do.”

Terry noted that the focus of the race has been geared more toward the Boston end.

Lewitus envisioned using the BAA tents for yoga, arts and crafts, and other activities with music to make the weekend “a festive event.”

He added that there will be an online registration system for vendors to apply for use of a space. Vendors will be selected with the goal that they would have unique offerings. Commissioners hoped that vendors would commit to both Saturday and Sunday. Some may be offered the chance to participate on Monday due to logistics.

“We’ve never had this level of conversation before the marathon.” Terry said, praising the department staff for “making it a Hopkinton event again.”

Sandy Beach subcommittee discussed fees

Member Seth Kenney noted that the Sandy Beach subcommittee met recently and voted on keeping the fees the same this year as last summer. In the future, the fee structure will be reviewed annually. This will allow the subcommittee to analyze expenditures versus the money received.

The fees, Lewitus said, are $50 for the season for a family vehicle or walk-in season sticker. Additional stickers would be available for $10, with a limit of two. A $100 fee would be assessed for a boat trailer with two vehicle stickers. Residents 65 and older are free. Family day passes will be available for $10.

Lewitus stressed that Sandy Beach use is for residents. If the policy is amended, it could include town employees at the resident rate. This will be voted on at the next meeting on Feb. 13.

Bench donation proposed

Diana Beck sought feedback from the commission if she could donate a bench in memory of her deceased husband, who died in May 2022. The family has resided in Hopkinton since 2000, and she wanted to do something “to commemorate his love of the town.”

While Beck said she was flexible about the location, she knew how much her husband enjoyed the fountain. If a bench were not feasible, she proposed possibly creating a fund for the fountain’s upkeep.

Terry noted that he had not seen a request like this during his tenure on the commission. He asked that the request first be discussed “at a policy level.” Lewitus said he would research town policy in regard to the request.

The proposed bench potentially could dovetail with a suggestion at the Commission on Disability’s public forum to place more public seating on the Town Common.

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