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ConCom OK’s Work At Veterans Memorial Park

May 04, 2019 12:22AM ● By Lisa Redmond

Veterans Memorial Park

DRACUT – The $1.5 million facelift planned for Veterans Memorial Park, which involves repairing and renovating the playing fields and the Spray N Play splash pad, passed a major hurdle this week when the Conservation Commission approved the plans with some conditions.

Dracut’s Chief Engineer Mark Hamel appeared before the committee for a May 1 public hearing called a “notice of intent.’’ The hearing was for the commission to decide if the work being done at the park will be minor and what, if any, impact it would have on nearby wetlands.

The town was required to file a notice of intent because some of the proposed work is next to the wetlands and some is 25 feet away, but within the 100-foot buffer zone required for a hearing.

The $1.5 million repairs and renovations to Veterans Memorial Park at 80 Broadway Road is one part of a $4.4 million project, funded by the Dracut Community Preservation Commission, to construct a state-of-the-art athletic complex at Dracut Memorial High School.

The park project will correct long-standing issues at the park that Town Manager Jim Duggan said have cause “horrific’’ drainage issues turning the area into a seasonable mud pit.

Hamel told the commission the park has endured 20 years of hard use which has pounded the soil and grass into hardpacked dirt that no longer drains water, creating pools of water on the playing fields.

The plans call for placing the old soil with nutrient-rich soil and planting grass. The combination of soil that will drain the water and grass that will absorb the water should solve the drainage. The football and soccer fields to replace about a foot of soil in some areas. As for the baseball field, the infield are will be reworked.

The Spray ‘N Play splash pad will have the existing concrete ripped up, new concrete poured in some areas and a new surface added in where the children play in the water.

The park will be closed for two years with the first year being used to do the work and the second year to allow the grass to take root, Hamel said.

Commission members asked about stockpiling soil that is removed and where heavy equipment will be parked. Hamel said old soil will be piled in the large field and removed if not needed. The equipment will be in the parking lot.

Since the work at the park will be close to the wetlands, the commission issued conditions that there be staked hay bales around the site and a high-visibility fence in an area next to the wetlands. Silt barriers can be added to the catch basins.

Blackberry Fields Road resident Susan Koufogazos voiced her concerns about any changes to the water flow impact the wetlands abutting the park and the neighborhood. She questioned whether any analysis has been done on the flow rate of water and if the catch basins can handle the flow.

Hamel said he anticipates a “net reduction’’ of water runoff because there will be better drainage with new soil and grass that will absorb water.

Since most of the park is abutted by neighbors and wetlands, Koufogazos said there should be a public hearing where all the abutters are notified so they can ask questions about the project. She asked the commission hold a “request for determination of applicability’’ for the project which would require another hearing in which all abutters be notified.

Although the commission said the scope of the project doesn’t warrant an RDA, Hamel said he would be gladly meet with any interested residents to discuss the planned scope of work and drainage issues.

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