Selectmen on Wednesday expressed support for the Lawton Road Park Project but made no immediate funding plans for it.
The park plan calls for a playing field, practice area, parking
lot and a portion of the Farmington River Trail on town-owned property at 55
Lawton Road. In all, the cost estimate is slightly more than $1 million.
Earlier this fall, the Park and Recreation Commission had
voted to ask selectmen to consider selling municipal bonds (essentially borrowing
money and paying back over time) to fund the plan.
“We saw bonding as the only practical way that this project
will get done,” Park commissioner Ben Holden said Wednesday night.
Selectmen held lengthy, often intertwined discussions, on recreation needs and
funding options for the Lawton Road Park Plan, Mills Pond Pool funding and other improvements
at Mills Pond Park. (David Gilchrist recused himself from the Lawton Road
portions due to the vicinity of his home).
In the end, most selectmen supported bonding but not immediately. Most were clear that they don’t feel the Lawton Road plan should be sent to voters at the same time as a revamped garage plan, which the town has targeted for Spring of 2014.
Selectman Tom Sevigny said a garage project that will be acceptable to voters has been challenging enough on its own.
“I don’t see Lawton road project being part of the town
garage bonding,” he said.
First Selectman Richard Barlow said he envisioned it would be more likely added to a round of projects that would go before voters when current capital debt lowers — at least 7 years from now.
Selectmen also discussed the potential for requesting funding under the 2014 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant program, which awards up to $500,000 for town capital projects. However, most board members steered toward applying for improvements at Mills Pond Park, including resurfacing the tennis and basketball courts, revamping the skatepark and code work and partial renovation of the pool house.
Park and Recreation commission chairwoman Rebecca
Andrews said commission members generally agreed that Mills Pond Park
would be a good project for which to seek STEAP funding. Park and Recreation officials have advocated the Lawton Road project be fully funded before work begins.
"It doesn't mean (the Lawton Road project) is less important to us; it's just a much larger project," Andrews said.
(Patch is working on separate stories for the Park Improvement idea as well as funding for improvements to the pool itself).