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Improvements At Calkins Park To Begin Next Year

Work on fields and other features will close park until spring of 2014

A New London park will be closed for much of next year as the Department of Public Works does a number of projects designed to rejuvenate the site.

The department recently completed a design phase for improvements at Calkins Park. The $750,000 project will be funded under a recent bond issue and the department plans to put it out to bid by mid-January, with the City Council taking a final vote on approval of the contract.

“I believe we’ve come up with a great design that can be a benefit to the city and the neighborhood,” said Bill Camosci, a Public Works consultant.

Under the design, the number of soccer fields at the park will increase from three to four and a high school regulation softball field will be established with two portable bleachers. Other improvements will include the planting of shade trees and wildflowers, exterior and interior renovations to a bathroom facility near the parking lot, exterior renovations to a building on Riverview Ave., and a new stairway.

The changes have been approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Inland Wetlands and Conservation Commission. Elena Pascarella, a landscape architect with Landscape Elements, said the project will involve reducing the size of wetlands at the site to improve visibility and safety. She said the improvements to a .45-mile five foot wide walkway will also allow greater handicapped access.

“We’d like to encourage more people of all physical abilites to use that walkway,” she said.

Plans call for the playing areas at the park to be unusable while work proceeds during 2013, with a reopening to take place in the spring of 2014 in time for the summer soccer season.

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Bud Wizer December 21, 2012 at 01:06 PM
As opposed to investment of public funding into a commercial interests directed at attracting persons from without our city to it, the Caulkins Park project represents an overdue shift in accomodating persons who actually live in our ciity with recreational amenities that, it can reasonably be argued, more appropriately fit the purpose of local government. It is also worth observing that in the case of Caulkins Park, its location speaks to a densely residential area of mixed demographics and cultural backgrounds that is truly Whaler Pride. Not lost of some of us who remain hopeful that city officials will shift their emphases away from the small cluster of downtown commercial power-brokers to the needs of the persons whom they are most obligated to serve, New London's residents, is the park plan's emphasis on soccer fields. Indeed, the Census of 2010 clearly indicates a growing reality that for more and more city residents, soccer, not baseball or softball, is more and more coming over the horizon to mark New London's singularity and significance as our region's most diverse population centers. Well done, this bonding and public works commitment. Well done, indeed.
Anna Teachworth December 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Why Softball and not baseball?? I don't remember the exact number of baseball fields we have lost use of over the years because in the end its cheaper to just install a softball field instead of a true baseball infield.
linda needham December 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Pointless if you ask me look how many school playgrounds have been redone and within a month ignorant people come along with their sharpies and write vulgur profanities all over it. Save the money and upgrade the schools security systems that is needed more
J. Scagnetti December 21, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I completely agree Linda and i live by and frequently use calkins park. A year or two ago the put in a whole new playscape which i was excited for and within weeks it was vandalized , in addition to the small parking lot there they put in a gigantic brand new one that i've never seen utilized. Also they put in a brand new basketball court which is nice . Everytime i go down there i see tons of garbage and piles of dog feces not too mention theres a real problem with people who like to just let there dogs off the leash and run wild. Alotta of people do enjoy and appreciate the park but there are far too many who don't and treat it like there personal garbage can and in my opinion no more money should be dumped into it except for occasional cleaning and maintanace.
Lisa Beth December 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
When my family and I lived on Cliff St we went to Caulkins park almost every day. The kids loved it...we didn't write on anything...and we often watched the SailFest fireworks from there. I'm glad to see it getting a much needed overhaul so that the kids in the neighborhood will have a good place to play. Now if we can just get them to put down the video games, computers, and cell phones to actually go outside, we'll really be doing something!
Lax Mom December 21, 2012 at 05:22 PM
@Bud Wizer - thank you for the support. There are over 200 children who participate in the programs run by the NL Soccer Club, making it one of (if not the) largest youth organizations in the city. @J. Scagnetti - If you live near Calkins Park then you know that every Saturday in the fall and spring, every possible parking spot is used by the families whose children play soccer for the New London Soccer Club. I am at the park 3-4 times a week with my daughters for practices/games and there is not "tons of garbage" there, nor have we ever had any complaints about dog feces. What we do have complaints about is the conditions of the fields. The fields are uneven and have reached the point of almost being unsafe to play on. We have had to, on occasion, dig out large rocks from the fields or fill in large puddles after rainstorms. The time for "occasional cleaning and maintenance" has passed. The fields have been neglected for too long.
Wayne Vendetto December 21, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Bud, I am not opposed to improvement and maintenance of any of our parks, but I find it interesting that you champion this project. There is a park on the other side of town, that if I recall correctly, you wanted to get rid of. That park is also in a densely populated residential area of mixed demographics. The only difference being, is that the park I am speaking of, is the only park in that section of town. I have no problem spending my tax dollars on facilities for our children. I just wish Riverside Park could have a playground. Just one. Nobody wants to be greedy. We have even asked for the used one that sits at the portables. Maybe someday.
Kathleen Mitchell December 21, 2012 at 07:21 PM
$750,000.even if it is bond money, is still $730,000. more than what our elected representatives have agreed to spend on moving the second-hand playscape from the Nathan Hale portable trailer to Riverside Park. The neighborhoods surrounding Riverside Park include the most densely populated area in New London as well as being of "... of mixed demographics and cultural backgrounds..." yet there is only one small playscape located there on the heavily trafficked corner of State Pier Road and Crystal Avenue. Why is that?
Clark van der Lyke December 21, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Right on track Kathleen and Wayne. I must be getting worn down because you both seem to have good points recently.
Kathleen Mitchell December 21, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Thanks, Clark. But, I don't think it's because you're getting worn down; it's because you're one of the most intelligent and kindest people I know.
Bud Wizer December 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Wayne, I expressed approval initially for the proposed sale of a portion of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard because I had no faith that our city's leaders, given how they appear to have deliberately abandoned by neglected the Martin Center's full-sized gym and usable auditorium, would do anything construction with the park. In fact, it seemed to me the deliberate neglect of the park might have been intended to bring it to such a state of disrepair and ill-repute, that selling it off would be easy street. After paying closer attention to the energies of persons like you and the others who, as it turned out, saved the park, I stepped into the voting booth and turned no. It was a turn of conscience, for which I am indebted to the scores of persons who rallied to win the referendum. What I'm planning on working on as the new year begins is the pedestrian bridge over O'Neill Drive, which is primarily infrastructure for poor folk and is in disgraceful condition. The Hodges Square gentrification seems, no surprise to me, to have overlooked the poor folk, as is usually the case when gentrification rears its ugly head. Merry and Happy to you, Wayne. Keep the faith:) :

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