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Board of Directors Reviewing Options For Center Springs Park Expansion

Town officials are reviewing three options for a possible expansion of Center Springs Park that range in cost from $500,000 to over $2 million.

The Board of Directors received a presentation recently that gave the town that runs under Edgerton Street near ; two of the possible options would also allow the town to expand and connect the park to the current Broad Street revitalization efforts, but those two scenarios are the most expensive. 

Christopher J. Ferrero, an engineer with the firm of Fuss & O'Neill, presented the proposals to the Board of Directors as part of its policy briefing meeting last Tuesday, June 26. 

Under the first scenario, which would cost an estimated $480,750, the town would simply install a new culvert and pipe system, repairing the street and leaving it exactly as it is now. 

Under the second scenario, which would cost an estimated $959,750, the town would install a new culvert, then regrade the railroad bed above it to create a walking trail from the park to Broad Street. The plans call for the installation of lighting along the paved pedestrian trail, landscaping, a retaining wall and the creation of a small parking area at the "trailhead" on Broad Street. That would cost an estimated $534,750. A second portion of this plan, which Ferrero said could be completed at a later date - or not at all - would call for the installation of a 200-foot pedestrian bridge that spans the regarded railroad bed and culvert at an estimated cost of $425,000. 

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A PDF of Fuss & O'Neill's architectural sketches for the projects have been attached to this article. 

The third and most expensive option, at a total cost of $2.06 million, calls for the removal of Edgerton Street from that area of the park, and the installation of both a walking path and a traffic circle, opening the park up to both pedestrian and vehicular access from Broad Street. This option also includes the pedestrian bridge, but it is expanded to 400-feet because of the width of the traffic circle, and the cost of the estimated construction of the bridge doubles to $825,000. Ferrero said that the bridge in this option can be completed at a later date as well, or left out of the project entirely if it is deemed too expensive. Minus the bridge, the total cost of this option would be an estimated $1.21 million. 

Although Ferrero was not commissioned to give his opinion on the options, he stressed that private developers - which the town is hoping to entice to build on the Broad Street Parkade - would find a connection to the park much more attractive and viable for development purposes. 

"The developers will look to the connectivity inevitably," Ferrero said. "They really want that to help them market their own properties and make these properties more financially viable for them." 

Robert Schneider, vice-chairman of the Manchester Redevelopment Agency, which has been tasked with redeveloping the Broad Street area of town, said that about $1.5 million still remained from an $8 million bond referendum voters approved in November of 2009 for the Broad Street area; much of that money has already been spent on the acquisition and demotion of the parkade, reconstruction of Broad Street and things like the connectivity study. 

"It's a positive, positive thing for the whole development of the area to bring that dream out," Schneider told the Board of Directors, referring to the expansion and connection to the park. The Redevelopment Agency has already endorsed an expansion of the park and connection to Broad Street as its preferred option.  

But town directors expressed concern with some aspects of the proposals that they said were not entirely fleshed out, and asked Ferrero and town staff to provide them with more information before they place the matter on the agenda of one of their meetings to be decided. 

"I think that having more conversations and having answers before we move forward with this decision is so important to what we do," said Deputy Mayor Jay Moran. 

Editor's Note: Manchester Patch Editor David Moran is in no way related to Deput Mayor Jay Moran, but does think his last name is pretty cool. 

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Bob Hetzel July 03, 2012 at 11:39 AM
A pedestrian tunnel connecting Center Spring Park with Broad Street, possibly including an open Bigelow Brook, would require a smaller breach of the railbed than would a 200- or 400-foot bridge, and allow for the restoration of Edgerton Street. A steel tunnel, perhaps 30 feet at the base and 15 feet tall at the center allows plenty of light and visibility for the safety and comfort of users, as well as support for the railbed above it. People stream through smaller tunnels every day at Rocky Neck State Park. A good example of a suitable tunnel is on the Tankerhoosin section of a Vernon rail trail. Such a tunnel would help preserve the Cheney railbed and the possibility of an unencumbered right-of-way between the two ends of Main Street.
Alysia Duke July 03, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I don't know about Moran but Gryphon is a pretty cool name. ;-) I am curious the Recreation Dept.'s take on any of these proposals. I was not at the meeting to see what they would have said. Does the dept feel as though the renovations proposed will increase the use of that particular park? What about the police dept? Will any of these proposals increase or decrease the amt of crime in the park? I agree with the board, while the committee did a great job getting the proposals started, there are still a number of questions that need to be answered before voting and moving forward. However, again, I was not there and maybe these questions were already answered.
David Moran July 03, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Alysia, part of the design of the expansion is intended to give the park a "proper entrance" on Broad Street, because as you know now it's sort of tucked in behind Town Hall and you have to take stairs to get down to it. The better access is also anticipated to make the park more accessible, which should lead to more usage. But that is a good question of whether or not increased usage would lead to more crime in the park.

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