HANSON — A municipal park — perhaps including a common, walking and picnic areas or a gazebo bandstand — has been recommended by the Final Plymouth County Hospital Committee as a use for a portion of the property once the dilapidated hospital building is razed in April.
“Even though we have great resources like sports fields, a nice pond on either side of the Town Hall and Camp Kiwanee, Hanson has never in its history had an actual park,” Committee member, and Conservation Commission Chairman, Phil Clemons said.
Selectmen voted Tuesday, Feb. 7 to support the recommendation for designing a park on the site. Selectman Don Howard chairs the PCH Committee. The vote, not intended as a final approval, enables the PCH Committee to move forward with financing a park design.
Selectmen also approved a bid from Almar LLC of Medfield, as well as a change order, for the latest roof repair project at Maquan School.
The park project would be located in parcel two on the 55-acre property, in which three parcels with distinct features have been identified. Parcel two is where the food pantry, community garden, water tower and other buildings are located.
“It’s a sensible thing to do,” said Clemons. “We think we’ve answered questions regarding funding and the whole concept. The committee would be interested in feedback from this board.”
The board liked what they heard.
“You came to us with a potential solution,” said Selectmen Chairman James McGahan. “But, not only did you come to us with a solution, you came to us with a point on how to fund it, so I’m very impressed.”
He updated the Board of Selectmen on the PCH panel’s work. The committee has also proposed ways to fund the project.
Clemons’ PowerPoint presentation outlined the PCH Committee’s work over the course of more than 45 meetings, and indicated residents expressed a “strong desire” for a park at the site in a survey conducted last year.
“We need to make sure we set aside a way to fund the maintenance of the park,” McGahan said. “I’m sure that’s a big concern.”
Voters at the October 2016 Town Meeting authorized $1.8 million for razing the former hospital and outbuildings, with a bid of $1 million awarded to J. R. Vinagro. The balance of the unused funds reverts to the town and cannot be retained for maintenance.
The Committee has proposed the establishment of an account in which proceeds from the sale of the former hospital superintendent’s house “or a few other sources,” would be deposited to help fund maintenance. The panel also recommends an appraisal of the superintendent’s house.
The Committee has also applied to the Conway School of Landscape Design to plan a park on the site, estimated to cost about $7,000 and expects to hear that result soon. Clemons said feedback on the application has been “very positive.” The $7,000 price tag would encompass several site visits and a public meeting in Hanson for public input and ideas as they gather information. The cost would be paid over two installments at the beginning and end of the process.
Town Administrator Michael McCue said, at that price level, there is no need for competitive procurement.
Community Preservation funds are considered as a funding source for the design, but that process could delay the work. The town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) expected to be completed this month, would allow the committee to apply for several grants for the park. It also makes $4,000 in Conservation Commission funds immediately available for the park project, as well as more modest conservation funds that could be permitted for use by the state.
On Feb. 15 the Conservation Commission will discuss and vote on the possibility of going that route.
“Every previous version of that [OSRP] plan has included vague ideas about the county hospital — now it’s time to get specific,” Clemons said.
Besides a common, the plan could also include a low-maintenance playground, accessible walking trails, connection to the 200-mile Bay Circuit Trail and a possible dog park.
Other recommendations for the PCH property’s remaining parcels that are still under discussion, involve expanding the water tank easement to allow a second water tank, supporting the Bonney House as an historic education site, exploring the possibility of an unobtrusive cell tower and a solar array option for the south end of the property.
“There’s income for the town from [a solar facility],” Clemons said.
The PCH Committee is also investigating the use of online crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe to help pay for the project and its maintenance.
“We seek not to increase, but to control tax burdens,” he said.
“From what I can see, it gives you some revenue from the solar and the only thing you’re missing is an adult driving range,” Selectman Bruce young said.
“We think the golfing public has other options,” Clemons said.
The board’s vote on the bid for the repairs to a small section of the Maquan School roof followed a similar vote by the School Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The School Committee recommended awarding the contract to Almar LLC for a bid of $44,747 as well as an alternative of $9,500 for a total of $54,247 for the second phase of the roof’s repair. The Selectmen’s vote allows McCue and School Business Services Director Christine Suckow to sign the contract.
The work entails additional items found that were not part of the original roof repair contract for the flat part of the school’s roof. Flashing and brickwork found in need of repair will now be addressed.
A $7,600 change order with consultants Gale Engineering was also approved to appoint the firm as clerk of the works on the project.