Former Pete & Henry’s site in Royalston to become new park

(From left) Royalston Park Committee members Dick Lawrence and Janice Trask, Chair Lynne Kellner, and Mt. Grace Project Manager Aaron Nelson.

(From left) Royalston Park Committee members Dick Lawrence and Janice Trask, Chair Lynne Kellner, and Mt. Grace Project Manager Aaron Nelson. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-21-2024 5:08 PM

ROYALSTON – The Selectboard Tuesday night put their signatures to a conservation restriction governing the parcel in the South Village that was once the site of Pete & Henry’s restaurant.

The agreement with Mt. Grace Land Conservation Trust gives the organization oversight of what is hoped to be the town’s newest public park. The town was required to place the property under this restriction following the purchase at a recent Town Meeting with Community Preservation Act funds.

The signed restriction included changes made to a draft presented by Mt. Grace’s Aaron Nelson at a meeting last August. Some revisions, he said, were made after consultation with the ad hoc Park Committee, stating sections deleted from the document “didn’t seem essential to their vision of the park.”

At just under one-fifth of an acre, Nelson said the parcel is the smallest under a conservation restriction in Mt. Grace’s portfolio.

“We’re very close to the end of the process,” Nelson told the board Tuesday, “but we’re not quite there.”

Nelson explained that once the document is signed by the board and Mt. Grace officials it will be forwarded to the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper for her signature, which should happen within a couple of weeks.

Plans for the park

At Tuesday’s meeting, Park Committee Chair Lynne Kellner an overview of the plans for the site. Kellner is preparing a grant application for the Elden E. Bjurling Charitable Foundation, located in Leominster, which supports a variety of organizations throughout northern Worcester County.

Kellner said that the grant request will be for approximately $20,000, though this isn’t finalized. Kellner said the grant would also include requests for funding for a gated fence, a formal entranceway—which the committee hopes will mimic the gazebo in the South Village—climbing ropes or cargo nest for children, a pair of solar lights “that look like 19th century gas lights,” and several smaller lights to mark part of the park’s perimeter.

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“One of the things we need to clarify is what help we might be able to get from the DPW,” said Kellner.

She explained that Public Works Director Jaret Thiem has said that the DPW would be able to help with certain things. The removal of a couple of cement slabs is among the committee’s priorities. Kellner wants to have a meeting between the committee, Selectboard and Thiem to find out what the DPW might be able to do on the property.

“If the DPW cannot do some of the work that we need, then we can’t go forward with the things in this grant because the land needs to be somewhat prepared in terms of being able to take some structures, in terms of the slope, and so on,” she said.

Kellner presented the board with rough drawings of the current condition of the property and what amenities the Park Committee hopes to add. Among these is the addition of three sets of picnic tables where the kitchen area used to be. Each table, she explained, would be ADA accessible and able to accommodate six people. A grill to accommodate barbecues would also be added. Kellner hopes to pursue another grant source to help fund a play structure.

“To try to mirror the idea of the (King Street) Bridge, which people were very interested in, the play structure we’d like to do is a clatter bridge that would create the sense of the bridge,” she said.

Kellner said the committee is also in talks with an artist about the potential installation of a mural honoring Royalston history.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.