Last week I attended a meeting with the group of civic leaders, led by the the Dover Rotary Club, working to rehabilitate Park Street Park. This project began almost a year ago and has been an effort in public/private partnerships, but also an experience in refining the neighborhood desires.
Approximately thirty five years ago the City of Dover took possession of a parcel of land which formally had a factory on it, between Park Street and East Concord Street. The land is just over an acre in size. Using Community Development Block grant monies, the City developed a park for the use and enjoyment of the neighborhood. In the late 1970s vandalism and illicit use of the park brought about the installation of a chain link fence and hours of operation for the park. The early 1990s saw the neighborhood band together and approach the City about reinvesting in the park. At that time changes to the amenities were installed and a neighborhood watch was instituted.
Like many things in life, the life of the park has had a cycle to it. A year ago, neighbors reported concerns about crime, vandalism and lack of care for the park. City staff, from Community Services, Recreation, Police and Planning as well as Ward 1 Councilor Bob Carrier met with residents over two Saturdays to discuss the park. Pledges to work together were made and communication lines were set forth.
As part of the 2009 update to the Recreation chapter of the City's Master Plan, there was discussion about the relationship between the city and users of the neighborhood parks. It has been long recognized that with the City's limited funds, there is a need for help with watching over the parks. Additionally, I have long wondered if there is a way to broaden Dover Pride Clean up day. This expansion would take the limits of work from the downtown core to other neighborhoods.
The basic idea is that maybe instead of coming to downtown, your family would go to your neighborhood park. The city would have deposited mulch and you and your neighbors could spread the mulch and tidy up the park and take pride in your neighborhood. The idea is not to replace downtown's clean up, but to enhance it.
Park St might be the first trial of this. Over the past year, the Rotary Club of Dover has stepped forward and facilitated discussions with neighbors on the value of recreation at the park. They retained a landscape architect to design a new park layout based upon the input. Above all they fund raised to afford the improvements. The City itself has agreed to do some drainage and other improvements. The work has begun and should be completed this summer.
My hope is that as the project winds down, we will see a continued effort by the neighborhood to work together to watch and maintain the park. At one meeting, a neighbor said that she always encourages her children to clean up garbage and such at the park, and reminds others not to leave waste behind. Another abutter reminded his neighbors that they don't need to rely on the City to pick up the park, we are all part of the community and can all be responsible and accountable.
These are great comments and thoughts. Ones which I hope stay with the community and neighborhood for years to come.