Feedback from public sought for Silver Lake Park project

  • Members of the Open Space and Recreation Review Committee look over the draft of a survey that will be available to the community next week based on the Silver Lake Park Master Plan for improving the park. From left, Tree Warden Travis Knechtel, Dept. of Public Works Superintendent Douglas Walsh, Planning Board Chair David Small, Town Planner Eric Smith, OSRC chair Brian Hall, and resident David Gaspar. —Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

  • Silver Lake Park as viewed from near the beach area. The Open Space and Recreation Review Committee is holding an open house on Nov. 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library for individuals to provide feedback regarding the revitalization project for Silver Lake Park. Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

Staff Writer
Published: 11/6/2019 9:50:24 PM
Modified: 11/6/2019 9:50:21 PM

ATHOL – The Open Space and Recreation Review Committee hopes to engage public interest in the revitalization of Silver Lake Park project by providing the opportunity for individuals to give feedback at an open house next week and through an online survey.

At the OSRC meeting Tuesday night, members discussed the format for the low-key, informal open house, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library. OSRC chair Brian Hall will give a brief introduction and attendees will have the opportunity to share their ideas, and opinions on large maps. The purpose of the open house is to gather input to implement the Silver Lake Park Master Plan, which is based on findings collected by Bo Carpen and Robbe Verhofste, two graduate students from the Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design program at the Conway School. The Master Plan is available for viewing on the Town of Athol website at http://www.athol-ma.gov/parks-trails/pages/silver-lake-park.

The online survey is scheduled to be available next Tuesday through the Town of Athol website, Hall said. The survey will run for three to four weeks and in December the OSRC will meet to talk about the results.

Recent outreach during local public events like the Athol Lions Club Haunted Hayrides, which take place around the Silver Lake loop, have also garnered some input, Hall reported.

The survey draft, created by Hall, was provided to the committee members to review to make any changes prior to its public release. In part of the survey, individuals are asked about the amount of time spent at Silver Lake Park and activities that they do, for example, with areas to write suggestions for improvements. The longest section of the survey focuses on “bigger picture” questions based on an overview map of the final Master Plan design.

The committee will research sources of funding, including park grants and Patronicity, a “crowdgranting” program. OSRC member David Small said the Athol-Orange Rotary Club has also offered to help.

Small said he feels having good signage will be important down the road and that currently there are very few rules and regulations posted around the park. He suggested using signage similar to the styles used for Athol Conservation Areas where “you put the positives first, then what you can and what you can’t do.”

Douglas Walsh, Superintendent of the Department of Public Works, suggested that anything that needs to be presented to the Conservation Commission be combined into one Notice of Intent. Town Planner Eric Smith told Walsh that as part of the budget process, because the DPW is understaffed, “we need to be champions for you guys” and have more conversation to see what their needs are. Small suggested having two people at the park, particularly on weekends, working staggered shifts, and equipped with a vehicle and tools. Smith added the idea of using radios that tie to the police.

The committee discussed the possibility of increasing the amount of signs that direct to Silver Lake Park. “Once we get affirmative plans for access, we can work on signage,” Small said. Part of the Master Plan titled “Wayfinding Downtown,” suggests placing signs at key downtown intersections, Main and Exchange streets, and Main and Crescent streets.

The next Open Space and Recreation Review Committee meeting will be held on Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. in the Town Hall.


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