Straw Hat Park – 1 or 2 years

The email below today from Jean Mineo.  I favor building the park in just one year, not over two years, if we are agreed that we are going to spend the money to create the park.  And I agree that it makes sense to build this park in the center of our downtown.  It is an “extra,” but for me one well worth doing for what it will bring to our downtown.

Hello Mark, Richard and Pete,


I had planned to attend tonight’s Selectmen meeting but plans from last night were rescheduled to tonight due to the rain. I write with an update for your consideration and deliberation.


As a reminder, Straw Hat Park Committee members include the town planner Sarah Raposa, The Garden Continuum President Monique Allen, and representatives from: DPW (Bobby Kennedy), Parks and Rec (Kevin Ryder), businesses in the area (was Tim Larkin, now is Keith Maher/Starbucks), residents (Minta Hissong), Downtown Study Committee (Matt McCormick), and the Cultural District (myself).


The Straw Hat Park Committee has asked the Warrant Committee for an allocation of $70,500 to pay for the construction of the park, including the first year’s maintenance in order to get the plants off to a good start (if the Garden Continuum is hired for this work, they will guarantee the plants). In the second year, we anticipate the maintenance cost will decrease to $5,500 and decrease again in the third year. In the third year, the plants are established and begin to mature. The plants have been selected for year round interest, long term sustainability, drought tolerance, and to spread – thus reducing mulching, weeding and watering needs significantly in subsequent years.


The Warrant Committee will vote 5 – 2 in favor of $32,000 for the 2015 budget and they will be heard at Town Meeting.


With an allocation of $32,000 the park construction can begin sometime Aug – Oct. 2015. This allows us to take advantage of the planned DPW presence in the Green Street area this fall and realize some efficiencies in the use of heavy equipment when it is available and nearby. We can address drainage issues, contour the slope, trench for water and electricity, replace and widen the sidewalk and back asphalt (where a bike rack is planned). The site will then be covered with mulch and fenced off until the remaining funds are in place.


The Straw Hat Park Committee expects to make a brief presentation and a motion to amend the warrant article for the full allocation of $70,500. We have 3 reasons:


  1. There is no guarantee that funds will be allocated at Town Meeting 2016


  1. Construction site. IF funds are approved in two phases over two years at Town Meeting 2015 and 2016, this park in the heart of downtown will remain a fenced off construction site for about a year (infrastructure in fall 2015, finishing work in fall 2016 to include plantings, patio, seating). Planting is ideally done in the fall and won’t be done over the summer even though funds could be released in July 2016 if approved at Town Meeting.


  1. Price increases. As we’ve heard on all capital improvement projects in town, prices increase over time. A two phase project will also require some additional expenses not included in the single-phase budget (for example, mulching the site for year, additional labor, fencing). We anticipate an additional 10% increase of $7,050 or $77,550 overall budget in a two phase project.


While we will work with a two phased project if necessary, we do want people to understand the implications.


As you know, we were successful in securing all of our consultants (design, engineering and graphics) at no cost to the town at an estimated value of $9,000. The funds requested at Town Meeting are to actually build the park. The committee has taken on the added role of raising an additional $34,000 (over and above the $70,500 requested at town meeting) to bring in extra amenities of signage, planters and a fountain feature requested by residents. We have in hand over $18,500 from 20 families toward this goal of $34,000. Personal Best Karate should be recognized for their early and generous gift of $1,000. Other businesses including Rockland Trust, Zebras, Leuders, A&D Appliance, Hurley Testa, Starr and Glick Orthodontics, Berkshire Hathaway, and Needham Bank have already made donations. Local businesses including Larkins, Zebras, Starbucks, Brothers, and Honey’s have also contributed goods toward fund raising initiatives. We have additional fund raising initiatives and grants planned and are optimistic we can raise the funds for the enhancements.


We ask for your support of $70,500 in a single phase project to fund the infrastructure and basic park amenities – seating, grass, plantings, a patio, lighting, and ADA accessibility at the Straw Hat Park.


I am available until 2:30 today by phone to answer any questions.

Thank you for your consideration,





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