HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Feb. 11, approved a plan recommended by the Final Plymouth County Hospital Re-Use Committee’s recommended plan for a community park on the site.
Selectman Matt Dyer, vice chairman of the PCH Committee, and the panel’s Chairman Don Ellis presented the plan update to Selectmen.
“We took input from the community at various times at numerous listening sessions,” Dyer said. “We hired the Conway School to come in and give us some proposed uses, and it gave us different concepts that we could utilize up there.”
The committee worked with those concepts to develop its proposed plan.
Other opportunites, such as a solar farm, were also considered, according to Dyer.
“What we heard at the listening sessions was that we want passive recreation,” he said. “We do not want active recreation, such as baseball, soccer or anything like that at the park.”
Activities such as biking, walking, bird-watching, a play performance in the park or perhaps a playground, were among the requests, Dyer said, noting that the town’s financial outlook isn’t able to fund all the development at one time.
“We want to go after this in phases, [using] not only grants, but CPC money and town funds, or any other opportunities that come our way,” he said.
Grant sources such as the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation as well as the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs have “been pretty generous with their grant opportunities,” Dyer said. But only one submission is permitted per year, because the grants could be as much as $1 million, depending on the project.
In order to receive certain grants, big parking lots had to be included in the plan, Dyer explained. But they want to make sure the park has the feel that identifies with the town of Hanson.
“The theme that we really want to stick with is New England,” he said. “We don’t want to do a modern park, we don’t want to do an urban park. We want to really embrace our culture here as New England.”
A main driveway would lead into a roundabout to slow traffic and a parking lot. An event pavilion with an amphitheater, a playground for all ages from toddlers on up is also planned, as well as extending the community garden to include an orchard. An historic area akin to a “mini Sturbridge Village” near the Bonney House could also be included.
“It’s worth saying that we’re not the richest bunch of people around, but we’re trying to minimize the cost to the town of Hanson,” he said.
Land use options could include a wildflower meadow, which is the subject of debate within the committee at the moment, according to Dyer.
“What we’d like from the board tonight is a blessing to keep going forward and looking for grants and coming back with proposals for infrastructure,” Ellis said. He said the committee has asked the engineer for a ballpark figure for the site work costs.
Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett asked for some detail on what the plan priorities would entail.
Dyer said the first phase could include site work, a playground and expansion of the community garden. A veterans’ memorial of some kind was also requested to honor all who have served.
Dyer said he is still not opposed to inclusion of a solar field, if a way can be worked out to bring the generated power to the grid. They are also looking into uses for the vacant building in front of the food pantry.
“If we can make that into a [business] incubator space or individual office space, right now that’s big,” he said. “That market’s blowing up right now.”
Town Administrator John Stanbrook also reported that an award bid for 0 Liberty Street must be put out to bid again, at the direction of both town counsel and the state Inspector General’s Office, because information about the lot’s non-conforming status — requiring a ZBA variance to build on due to lack of adequate frontage — was not included in the bid package.
“That’s a substantive information that could have influenced people’s bid,” Stanbrook explained. The proposals would be rejected and the description reworded for the rebidding.
Winning bidder Tim McQuarrie of 437 East Washington St., said he would accept the bid description as is, but FitzGerald-Kemmett explained the town could not legally allow it.
In other business, Selectmen heard an update on use over the past year, and upcoming programs planned, at the Hanson Public Library.
Library Director Karen Stolfer said there were 36,900 visitors to the library in 2019, checking out 50,270 items including 8,854 e-Books.
“We had a people counter installed,” she said about the visitor count. “I think this is a good way of showing that people are using the library. It’s an important part of the community.”
In 2020, the library is again participating in the Boston Bruins Pajama Drive, in collaboration with DCF, Cradles to Crayons and Mass. Libraries. New pajamas are collected at the state’s libraries for children in need, with the Hanson Public Library collecting 50 pairs last year. This year’s goal is 75-100 pairs, with the drive going on through March 15.
At 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 15 a costumed character from Massasoit’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” will visit the library for a story time.
During February Vacation Week (Feb. 17-21) there will be a lot going on as well, according to Stolfer. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, family groups of two or three people may attend a painting workshop; on Wednesday, Feb. 19, there will be a screening of “Frozen 2,” with children encouraged to come in pajamas or in “Frozen” costume. Popcorn will be provided. On Thursday, Feb. 20, the “Frozen” theme continues with a Tea Party with the Snow Sisters, and for adults, a martini glass paint night will be held later that day. At 110 a.m., Friday, Feb. 21, a chess club led by W-H National Honor Society students will kickoff.
“Since Karen became librarian two years ago, our children’s programs have doubled,” said Library Trustees Chairman Corinne Cafardo. “There’s always something going on at the library and the parking lot is always filled.”
Cafardo also said the library needs chess sets for the new chess club, adding that donations or loans of sets would be appreciated.
Library Foundation programs on the horizon include author Andre Dubus III will discuss his novel, “Gone So Long,” at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23. A cooking demonstration and tasting by Good Life Kitchen of Norwell will take place at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, March 7.
A program about the Bay Circuit Trail, co-sponsored with Green Hanson is planned for 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 3.
For information on registration and/or any fees for these programs, visit hansonlibrary.org or call 78-293-2151.
Stolfer said the library is also working to create a teen room dedicated to Gret Lozeau, which will be dedicated in her memory at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 28.
“We would like to have people come and tell us what other materials they might like us to offer,” Stolfer said, noting they recently accepted the donation of a telescope that is available for loan. “Some of the things that other libraries have done [include] fishing poles, unusual cake pans, ukuleles, mobile hot spots.”
“You’ve got a lot of really great programming,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “There’s a lot of thought going into everything you guys are doing, it’s really impressive.”