New rules for park structures

May 16, 2019 by

Published in the May 16, 2019 edition.

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — A new town policy will govern the installation of any and all structures around the Lake and other town parks and playgrounds going forward. The policy was formulated by an eight-member committee that was formed last year after concerns were raised about the number and types of donated structures, including benches, appearing around the Lake and surrounding parks.

Last fall, the Town Council put a freeze on approving any new memorial benches after representatives of the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt came before them and requested that the town look into creating a policy with respect to new benches.

Last October, Karen Faler appeared before the Council along with FOLQ president Bill Conley to make the request. She reminded the board that about 20 years ago, FOLQ went to the Board of Selectmen with an idea to upgrade and replace the benches around the lake and on the common, many of which were in poor condition. FOLQ suggested a program, which they would administer, whereby donors could pay for a new bench and have an opportunity to memorialize a loved one in the process.

The FOLQ administered the program successfully and by 2006 all the pre-existing benches had been replaced. The demand for memorial benches continued, however, with six to 10 requests received a year. Those requests were referred to Town Hall. But without a clear policy, benches were appearing with varying degrees of authorization.

The lack of a policy also led to the appearance of benches with different designs. There was concern that overcrowding and “design chaos” would result in the continued absence of a policy. Without such policy guidelines, sympathy for families requesting memorial benches tended to overshadow other considerations, such as overcrowding and inconsistent design.

This week, Town Councilor Mehreen Butt reported that the committee met seven or eight times and came up with the new policy. Several other members of the committee were also at Monday’s Town Council Meeting, including Parks and Forestry Supervisor Dennis Fazio, John Carrick of the Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association and Bill Conley from FOLQ.

Butt said that the committee also created a map showing the locations of all currently existing benches. Structures covered under the new policy include benches, memorial remembrances, informational kiosks or signage, public art, play structures and trees or plantings. Under the new policy, requests for new memorial benches will no longer be accepted.

One provision of the new policy called for a “30-day town department and public comment period” between the time a request for a structure is submitted to the Town Council and a vote on approval. This led to a discussion of how the 30-day waiting period would jive with the Town Council’s regular meeting schedule. Ultimately, the Town Council modified that provision to “30 days or two meetings,” whichever period is shorter.

This week’s Town Council vote to approve the policy was unanimous.

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The Town Council tabled a decision on renewing the Wakefield Farmers Market Contract until its next meeting. Although the 2019 contract is virtually identical to last year’s agreement, some Town Council members had not received a copy to review. The board is expected to approve the contract at its May 30 meeting.

In a related matter, the Town Council approved a special liquor license that will allow Aaronap Sellers to continue selling bottled wine at the Farmers Market this year. That approval was made subject to renewal of the Farmers Market Contract.

The Town Council also approved a request from a local Girl Scout Troop to re-install its Kindness Rock Garden at Hall Park to coincide with the Farmer’s Market season, as was the arrangement last year.

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The Town Council approved a request from St. Joseph School to host a Beano night twice a month at the West Side Social Club. St. Joseph School Principal Dr. Joseph Sullivan said that the Beano games would be a way for the school to expand its fundraising beyond school families and keep tuitions reasonable while reducing the fundraising burden for parents of students.

Sullivan said that Beano would be run by the parents. The Town Council vote to approve the request was unanimous.

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The Town Council approved a request from the Wakefield Independence day Committee to hold the 2019 Fourth of July Parade starting at 5 p.m. on July 4. The board also approved a request from the West Side Social Club to run its July Fourth events on the Common. Both votes were unanimous.

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In other business this week, the Town Council:

Approved a Traffic Advisory Committee recommendation for a “No Parking Here To Corner” sign on the south side of Water Street, 20 feet east of the intersection with Valley Street.Approved a request from Beebe Library to accept and expend $5,820 in gifts from various donors.Renewed the Class II used car dealer’s license of P&L Auto on Foundry Street.

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