Residents ask to reverse decision on Ward Park for Senior Center
Marlborough – The City Council accepted, but otherwise did not act or comment on at its Jan. 28 meeting, a communication from a group opposed to a proposal for a new Senior Center.
Residents and landowners of the Ward Park Neighborhood Association are appealing to several city agencies and commissions to reconsider the decision to locate the new center at Ward Park. The group, led by Paul Brodeur, stated in a communication to the City Council, “We believe that the deeply divisive decision to locate public buildings on badly needed park space should only be made after broad community discussion and consent.”
The communication was swiftly accepted and placed on file with no discussion. In making the motion, Ward 3 City Councilor Matt Elder asked that the communication also be referred to Mayor Arthur Vigeant.
To emphasize their all-out effort to “implore the City Council to consider the many other choices for the Senior Center,” petitioners copied the mayor and councilors on letters sent to the Council on Aging, the Parks and Recreation Commission and Marlborough Historical Commission in an effort to have their objections heard.
According to the petition, which over 300 people signed, the Ward Park site is too small for the planned 13,000-square-foot building and the estimated 70 to 100 parking spaces needed. The petition also states that a “rigorous evaluation process was not conducted before deciding on this location.” Siting the center there would destroy existing use of the area for youth sports activities, dog walking and exercising and “makes void the recently developed Master Plan for revitalizing the park,” it further states.
The group is asking the Council on Aging to hold an open meeting to allow them to present their concerns and to better understand the proper needs of the project. They are suggesting that the Recreation Commission give them a public statement – in an open meeting – on the status of the Master Plan in place for Ward Park and “to better understand the circumstances surrounding the transfer of public parkland without broad community discussion and consent.”
From the city's Historical Commission, petitioners are seeking a hearing before the board to discuss the Artemas Ward Gateway to Ward Park. According to public statements from the committee established by the mayor's office to review options for a new senior center, this structure, erected in 1925, is slated to be moved as part of the proposed project. The petitioners are hoping that a statement from the board “might be useful in guiding the city in any decision about its fate.”
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