Work finally begins on Central Park renovations
By Jason Rowe
VERNON - Construction work is set to begin on the planned renovations to Central Park.
Seriously, they mean it this time.
After years of discussions and months of administrative stops and starts, construction workers will begin cordoning off the park, located between Park Place and West Main Street.
Preliminary construction work will commence this week and continue through the end of March.
Primary construction work on the park will begin in the spring and should be completed by the end of July, officials said.
With renovation work beginning, the Central Park area will be fenced off and unavailable for pedestrian access, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said.
"There is going to be some inconvenience to people and we'll try to minimize it the best we can," Clark said today. "It's nice that we are talking about construction instead of pending contracts."
Work will be performed by H.M. Nunes & Sons Construction of Ludlow, Mass., which was awarded a $382,480 contract in August.
But while the contract has been in place for months, the project had been held up by the state Department of Transportation, which wanted to take another look at the town's plans.
The project is being funded with a grant from the DOT.
Since being conceived several years ago, the Central Park renovation has been a source of frustration for town officials who have lamented the project being mired in a bureaucracy.
Among the sources of delays have been the relocation of utility lines around the park and the project's impact on crosswalks on West Main Street, which is also state Route 74.
In June, town officials thought they had seen the last of the delays and began soliciting bids for the project.
But they were again discouraged when the initial bids came in roughly $225,000 over budget.
Because of the initial overbids, town officials had to scale back the scope of the project by removing decorative renovations - such as ornamental lighting and textured crosswalks - outside the park.
But those changes triggered yet another DOT review of the project.
The state agency officially signed off on the new plans in November, clearing the way for work to finally begin.
Officials hope to have the renovation project substantially completed by the time of the town's Memorial Day and Independence Day festivities.
When it's finished, the new park will contain a new irrigation system, sod, new sidewalks, and a veterans memorial section.
Clark said the initial work will center on the removal of concrete sidewalks and light poles and the securing of the war monuments.
The contractor also will be on site to dig test trenches in preparation for the spring construction season, he said.
The park houses the newly renovated Cogswell Memorial Fountain, which was completed in the fall of 2005.
Residents with questions about the project may contact Clark, 870-3665, or project manager David Gooch, 870-3682.
©Journal Inquirer 2006