HANSON — Members of the Final Plymouth County Hospital Site Committee met on-site with a land development consultant Friday, June 2 to discuss possible recreational use of the land. The 8:30 a.m. meeting touched on what LLD Collaborative Principal Michael D. Farias called a master plan for recreational uses.
Farias’ Fall River collaborative will present its suggestions to the town through Town Administrator Michael McCue.
“You let us know what you’re trying to accomplish, and exactly where you’re looking at,” Farias said.
Parcel 1, the former hospital site where the committee is looking toward open space and passive recreational use is likely to be his main focus as well as Parcel 2, the U-shaped property around the hospital. Parcel 3 is conservation land.
Farias asked if there has been “any type of public process” such as brainstorming what residents want on a wish list for the site. Selectman Don Howard, who chairs the PCH panel, said that has no happened yet, but fellow Committee member Marianne DiMascio said surveys have indicated some ideas, but a proposal should come first.
“Before we could do anything, he had to get rid of the hospital,” Howard said. “Now that we’ve got it down, things are going to open up a lot more.”
“This has been going on for a long time, so we have some sense of what we’d like to see,” DiMascio said.
Don Ellis indicated the committee is looking for a schematic as to what can go where and how it should look, so McCue can take it from there.
Farias said his design approach is to take photos during the site visit for an analysis of what might work best as uses for the property, based on the geography, topography and vegetation that exists.
“That gives us the dos and don’ts so when we go public to do kind of the brain-storming and the wish lists … and go right into a couple schematic designs — 180 degrees in one direction and 180 degrees in another,” Farias said. “Then what we do is a preferred concept of a master plan. It takes the best of all the ideas and puts them together into one particular plan and that becomes the focal point of what you’re going to build on.”
He encouraged the committee to include the concepts it most wants in the plan as five of 10-year proposals that can be competed as funds become available or to revise as needs change.
“It sounds like you are saying ‘think in terms of phases’ because waving a wand is unlikely to be possible or not even a good idea,” said Committee Clerk Phil Clemons.
Farias said that was exactly right, comparing it to building a home. The frame is more important to get right, while specifics such as granite countertops may be added later.
Committee members indicated that playing fields should be part of the plan, even though there are some in town. McCue and Howard said a mixed-use park in Hanover may be the pattern they look to, as multi-use fields are important as sports such as lacrosse grow in popularity. Clemons, meanwhile, pointed to the need for a facility active elder residents may use without worrying that access would be restricted by school hours.
“There needs to be some general informal recreational space,” he said.
Farias said all parks now are designed with accessibility for all abilities and age groups in mind. Maintenance costs or seasonal limitations for park use should also be considered, he cautioned.
“You can always find the money somehow, some way to build something, but it’s the residual costs associated with maintenance,” Farias said.
Clemons said the committee is also strongly considering a solar field as one use of a portion of the property, most likely on the former hospital site.
Another proposal at the property is to eventually move Schoolhouse No. 4 from Main Street to an area near the Bonney House, which sits to the front of the PCH site, as a village green type of area with an historical component, according to Clemons and Ellis.
“I want to see that as being a very nice complement to the park-type space — a place for people to meet and do things and learn,” Clemons said.
Ellis said a farmer’s market area adjacent to the food pantry and community garden is also being considered.