City Likely To Fund Trail and Wetland Improvements

As a follow-up to the Ward Acres master plan proposal presented to the City this summer, our Department of Parks and Recreation is recommending that the Council fund a series of ecological, capital, and drainage improvements at our largest park. These improvements, which include removal of invasive vines, restoration of meadows, trail repairs, and installation of interpretative signage at points of natural and historical interest, are intended to stabilize the environmental health of the park and ensure that it remains a vital passive recreational asset for our entire community. The Department is also recommending that a multi-acre space be set aside for those who wish to walk their dogs off-leash and that hours be established during which off-leash walking would be permitted throughout the park. These improvements and others are proposed to be funded through the issuance of a $1.2 million bond, with annual debt service payments of approximately $120,000. We would simultaneously seek grants that might reduce local costs. Although this is a substantial expenditure, it should be remembered that the park is vast – roughly sixty acres – and that, aside from impressive volunteer maintenance efforts, it has been largely neglected for decades. Finally, the Department recommends against local funding for restoration of the Ward Acres barn. Although the barn is a unique and historic structure, the cost of renovating the building is simply too high for us to bear. We will instead seek outside public and private grants for this purpose. The text of the Department’s recommendations is HERE. Of course, each proposal will have to be more fully fleshed out prior to implementation.