CHESHIRE — In the upcoming election, residents will have the opportunity to vote on two questions, one of which will decide whether the community moves forward with the Bartlem Park South project.
The plan, focused on the property next to Bartlem Park, often referred to as the Chapman Property, would extend the park to the south and turn it into a multi-use town field and center.
The $14.87 million proposal was presented to the public back in January. For this referendum, however, the public will be voting on whether to allocate $7.9 million for phase one of the plan.
The town has also decided it would use $2 million of the funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act to help offset some of the costs of the first phase.
“This plan is really a result of what we heard at our community engagement meetings,” said Ryan Chmielewski, a representative of the engineering firm Weston & Sampson, during an initial meeting back in January. “We tried to make sure everyone’s voices were heard. We heard from the environmentalists who wanted a ‘do-nothing’ plan—we (listened to) neighbors who showed great concern (about) the backfield and lights, so they are not right up against bordering properties.”
Prior to the January presentation, Weston & Sampson held a number of public hearings for residents to express their concerns and suggestions. The final proposal includes the construction of a variety of field and performance spaces, as well as expanded parking, lighting, and drainage improvements for the entire park.
Town Manager Sean Kimball also expressed his excitement over the possibilities of improving upon the yearly Cheshire Chamber Fall Festival & Marketplace, which is held at Bartlem Park each year and is one of the biggest events in town.
Phase one would include establishing a town green community space, great lawn with an outdoor entertainment venue, multi-purpose synthetic athletic field with field lighting, an additional restroom pavilion, a network of walking paths, stormwater management, and an increase of existing parking by up to 165 spaces.
A highly anticipated portion of the Bartlem Park South project is the proposal for the creation of a Town Green, something which Cheshire is currently lacking.
“One of the biggest components of this is giving the town something that it's lacking right now, which is a dedicated Town Green,” Chmielewski explained to the Town Council back in January.
The second referendum question is focused on road improvements, something which the Town Council has put out for referendum the past few years.
The improvements are set to cost the town $1.7 million and will include road treatments such as restoration, milling and paving, chip seal, microseal, crack seal and other surface treatments, as well as the implementation of a concrete curb replacement program, and associated project costs.