East Glastonbury park improvements to start small

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Apr. 14, 2011
Parks and Rec. Director Ray Purtell shows the Town Council the proposed improvements to the Arbor Acres and Grayledge properties at the meeting on April 12. Photos by Steve Smith.
Parks and Rec. Director Ray Purtell shows the Town Council the proposed improvements to the Arbor Acres and Grayledge properties at the meeting on April 12. Photos by Steve Smith.

On April 12, the Glastonbury Town Council discussed revised plans for the Arbor Acres and Grayledge properties on Marlborough Road.

Proposals to morph the town-owned parcels were first presented last fall, and the consensus at public hearings favored minimal or no improvements to the areas. Residents instead wanted the pristine nature of the area to remain intact.

The previous discussions had included possibilities of walking trails, tennis courts and basketball courts, but the overriding concern of residents at previous public hearings were for no active recreational facilities to be placed on the site.

Tuesday’s meeting centered on very basic access improvements, such as parking and signage similar to that at the nearby Blackledge Falls areas, which could be implemented, and then potentially added to later on.

Plans for both parcels would call for about 15 to 20 parking spaces, and marking of trail systems.

Town Manager Richard Johnson said there have been 12 structures taken down on the 75-acre Arbor Acres site. Two structures remain, as well as a building that will be used as a town storage and maintenance facility.

“The two larger structures are something that typically would have been handled by the highway division over the winter,” Johnson said, “but given our past winter, we couldn't get to it, so that work is underway and it will continue.”

Former residences along Marlborough Road have been a concern, as they are unkempt, but councilors seemed to support their removal, as well.

“One of the reasons for doing the master plan was to determine how the overall potential improvements at the site would affect the residences,” Johnson said, adding that he has received concerns from local residents as to their unsightliness.

Johnson said there have also been concerns expressed about people accessing the sites at inappropriate hours.

Parks and Recreation Director Ray Purtell said the small parking lots would help limit public access to one point on each site, so that they would be easy to find, as well as maintain, and would provide access to the informal trails already on the properties.

“I think it’s totally appropriate that we move forward,” said Councilwoman Carol Ahlschlager. “I think this is a very good idea.”

“It makes perfect sense to me to demolish the four homes,” said Councilwoman Marti Curtiss. “They certainly are unsightly, and probably unsafe for people. Not knowing really what the future of this area is going to be, it seems to me we make it as pristine and natural as we possibly can.”

Councilman Whit Osgood had been a proponent of selling the homes or lots, but has since changed his mind.

“I think after our last discussion,” Osgood said, “it becomes pretty clear that if you are planning to, at some point in the future, use it for active sports field, it probably doesn't make sense to have homes there.”

Osgood also suggested that perhaps the parking lots don't even need to be as large as proposed.

“We could always expand the parking,” he said, adding that a few options should be presented at later meetings.

Councilwoman Michele Jacklin said that she thinks there is a need for more active recreation in that section of town.

“I know that the people who spoke were not in favor of active recreation, but I don't think we heard from young families with children back in the fall, when we held the hearings,” Jacklin said.

Councilman Tim Coon said the park improvements will be a great addition to the town.

“This is something that is going to pay dividends for years to come,” Coon said, adding that he hoped there would also be integration with other town and state properties in the area. “This doesn’t exist alone. There are a lot of advantages to where this is currently located.”

Purtell said there are several public lands in the area, and added that the Shenipsit Trail and others connect many of them.

A public informational hearing on the improvements was set for May 10 at 8 p.m. in the council chambers at Town Hall.

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