Environmental, parking concerns considered for Deerfield park project

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2020 3:35:43 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 3:35:03 PM

DEERFIELD – The Selectboard held the first of what is expected to be several public information sessions on the proposed development of a park on North Main Street. 

“At this point, we have a workable budget; we have town meeting approval from Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting, and the wetlands have been delineated,” said Police Chief John Paciorek, who has led the effort on the project. “To proceed to the next step, we really want to look at uses of the park and what the residents would like to see there and any concerns we’d like to mitigate as well.”

The parcel of land, located just north of Frontier Regional School on North Main Street, was purchased by the town after voters approved a $1.2 million appropriation at Town Meeting for the construction of recreational fields, foot and bicycle paths, and parking. In October, voters approved at a Special Town Meeting an additional $1 million toward the project. 

Several of the residents who spoke Wednesday night were in favor of the park but had either environmental concerns or — as many abutters expressed via written comments in Zoom’s chat feature — concerns with the proposed location of the parking lot. 

“I think the idea of a town park is great,” said Laurie Boosahda. “ … I have strong concerns about the wetlands.”

She said once the trees are removed, the land is going to absorb more water. 

“I don’t feel comfortable with how the wetlands issue falls in place,” she said. 

Boosahda added the project should be in line with the guidelines of the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program and suggested the use of permeable pavement for the parking lot — a suggestion that was echoed by another resident, Jennifer Remillard, who largely expressed support for the concept of a park.

 “I strongly support the idea of having this recreational area built,” she said. “As you know, I’m a member of the 350th Steering Committee, and one of the things I’ve taken note of in the community is there’s not a lot of open space in the community for any gathering to occur.”

The meeting was also an opportunity for residents to present ideas for the park — one such idea was a temporary ice rink in the winter. 

The issue of speeding in that area was also addressed by neighbors to the project.

“I live across the street from where this great project is going on in,” said Michael Martin. “I have some concerns. It seems like we’re all focused on … what’s going to happen on the inside. I’m worried about the outside.”

He said he’s worried about the fact he lives in a flood zone, but that he also has concerns for the safety of children, considering the condition of the sidewalks in that area and speeding cars down North Main Street.

“There’s a lot of speeding,” he said. And there’s been accidents.”

Addressing concerns brought forth by a resident who felt parts of the project had been conducted “internally,” Selectboard members said the work of the board is to get the process “rolling,” by considering options and then presenting those options to the town.

“Through this whole process, anything could go there,” said Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel. “We’ve heard from a lot of people what we would like to have here. So now, we're here to find out, is that truly the case? What else do we want to change? Is there something else we haven't thought about? Or … is there some other reason we shouldn’t be doing the project?”

Paciorek also noted that the basis for this project was identified in the 2015 Open Spaces and Recreation Master plan. 

The process for renewing that plan, Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness added, is going to start in December. 

“Anyone that is interested, can volunteer for that committee,” she said.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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