Sunday, July 4, 2010

Park Progress

After years of neglect, McCarthy Park, known to many as the old City Field, is finally becoming more usable and park like. This last week I noticed a very obvious upgrade - the majority of the ugly, rusted, chain link fence along Hotchkiss street has been removed. What a difference! The park now seems smaller and more accessible, and at the same time more expansive (not sure how that is possible, but come take a look, I think you will agree with me). With the fence gone, McCarthy Park seems like part of the neighborhood instead of a hidden refuge for vandals.

The fence removal is just the first step made possible with this year's funding from a City of Middletown, Community Development Block Grant of $54,000. In the next few months we can look forward to a new cleaner looking fence replacement that will define the park but will still keep it visually open. In addition, CDBG funded park progress will include installation of the swings (purchased with the last round of funding), new basketball hoops and some new benches. These still to come improvements and the recent changes to McCarthy park have been thanks to the hard work of Jennifer Saines and John Elmore of the Friends of McCarthy Park and the Village District and John Milardo of Middletown's Park and Recreation Department. Going back to 2003, The Middlesex County Community Foundation funded the first upgrades to the park. Wesleyan University contributed to the park by facilitating the new entrance to the park off High Street. Prior CDBG monies funded the last major upgrades to the landscaping and tennis court. Last summer, Stonehedge Landscaping donated their services to finish the beautiful hillside linking the upper tennis court area to the soccer field. These park improvements would also not have happened without the help of the neighbors to the park, including Jeff Bianco who donated architechtural landscape services and the many who volunteered for park clean ups.

When the first grant application for park improvements was submitted in 2002, Jennifer Saines wrote " progress would be evaluated with the following criteria: Has the park become more accessible?, Has increased accessibility and visibility led to greater interest in and use of the park? Is the park more a more visually aesthetic and natural environment? Have the options for both passive and active recreation been enhanced? Have the dangerous and unsightly features of the park been corrected? " Progress on all of these fronts have been made....stay tuned.

Melissa Schilke

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