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Board of Directors Favors Tunnel for Center Springs Park Connection

Three proposals to repair the culvert that runs under Edgerton Street vary in their costs and potential for the expansion of Center Springs Park.

The Board of Directors reviewed three possible options to repair a culvert that runs under Edgerton Street that would also potentially link Center Springs Park to Broad Street and the redevelopment efforts that are going on there. 

The report, delivered by Director of Public Works Mark Carlino and an engineer from Fuss & O'Neill, an engineering firm the town has employed to designate he project, was a follow-up to town directors received in late June about the park expansion and culvert repairs that left them with many questions. 

Under the three scenarios unveiled to the board as part of its monthly meeting Tuesday, the culvert underneath Edgerton Street would be replaced, allowing the road which has been closed to vehicular traffic since August of 2009 to be reopened, while also maintaining the existing trail that runs along the old Cheney Railroad embankment. 

But the costs and the potential expansion ability of the park out to Broad Street differ under all three proposals. 

Under the first proposal, a new 60" steel culver would simply be "jacked" into the embankment where the failed culvert now sits. That phase of the project would cost $487,500 for construction and an additional $75,000 in design and permit fees, for a total of $562,500, but would potentially limit future access to the park from Broad Street. 

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Under the second proposal, an "open cut" culvert would be installed into the embankment, along with a 10 by 35 foot metal arch tunnel for pedestrian access through the embankment, which would preserve the potential for future pedestrian access to the park from Broad Street. This proposal would cost $417,000 for construction and an additional $100,000 in design and permit fees, for a total of $517,000.  

The third scenario would involve the same "open cut" culvert, but would also see the installation of a 90-foot pedestrian bridge across the embankment, which would preserve the possibility of both pedestrian and vehicular access from Broad Street. That option would cost $690,000 for construction and $125,000 in design and permitting fees. 

A PDF of all three proposals have been attached to this article. 

Tuesday's report also included an additional phase for the second and third options that would see the town acquire the former Fuji Buffet property that abuts Broad Street, landscape the area and construct a parking lot to link the park to Broad Street. That phase would cost an additional $661,000. 

Voters allocated $1.5 million in a November 2011 bond referendum for the culvert repairs and park connection. 

Directors seemed to favor the tunnel option, but passed a resolution to refer the matter back to the Manchester Redevelopment Agency, which has been tasked with redeveloping the Broad Street area of town, for its opinion before making a final decision. The redevelopment agency is expected to offer its opinion to the board by its first formal meeting in October. 

"The tunnel option keeps the park looking like a park," Lisa P. O'Neill, a Democratic member of the board of directors, said during discussion of the proposal Tuesday night.

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Bob Hetzel September 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Gentlemen, I have had my say, and I have enjoyed the challenge of defending my position. There is much to be improved within Center Springs Park, but that is another conversation. To the doubters, I invite you to click on page 20 of the pdf at the beginning of this article and note the bridge vs. "metal arch" comparison. Next, click on the photo from Vernon (below the pdf) and compare the tunnels. These are not "homeless crime tunnels." Ask anyone who has gone there. Best wishes. Bob Hetzel
Frank September 10, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Bob I have also enjoyed it but you keep saying how great the Vernon tunnel is but that has almost nothing to do with this article. It doesn't matter how beautiful whatever they build is, if it can protect people from the elements the center springs park creeps will use it for crime. You could build a perfect replica of the arch de triumph there and it would still be used as a shanty town. Vernon either doesn't have homeless and criminals in their park or they have a police department that enforces the law, either way that isn't the situation in Manchester therefore the Vernon tunnel is an unexceptable example.
Bob Hetzel September 12, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Frank, the "center springs park creeps" are there because the park is hard to find, hard to get to, and seldom visited by most of Manchester's 150,000+ residents. The creeps are all over town, but they like to stay out of sight, and this park is a good place for that. What to do? Bring in more people, open the park up. A new, accessible and dramatic entrance is one approach, especially from a major development and traffic area. But there are so many other park improvements that might be considered, I have tried to avoid that conversation until another time. That the tunnel I like is in Vernon is irrelevant; the one the committee used is near Exit 1 of I-384, on a bike path. There are others; one on Route 6 in Andover, one at Bolton Notch, another on Tunnel Road in Vernon. And some prefer a bridge in any case. But the real question is the park itself. I am looking forward to that conversation.
Frank September 28, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I agree with everything you say I just think a tunnel isn't the welcoming dramatic entrance that will bring more law abiding visitors to the park. I also think it should be open. I think we should actually cut down the trees and make it more like walnut hill park in nb. That is a park surrounding by many creeps but the park is nice because it is open.
Bob Hetzel September 30, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Frank, the Board of Directors will hold their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in the Lincoln Center Hearing Room. The meeting will be opened "to electors or taxpayers who wish to be heard on any subject within the jurisdiction of the Board of Directors." I expect the 'tunnel vs. bridge' issue to come up, in part because at last word, the Redevelopment Agency prefers the bridge option. In the meantime, we mostly agree about the trees; there is knotweed and brush to clear out, and we could certainly talk about fences, railings, handicapped access, and particularly, closing the park - and patrolling it - at night. More benches, new picnic areas, better walkways, and so on.

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