Rose Park in Andover could be renovated next year to give young kids a better place to become acclimated with baseball and football.
The Andover Park and Recreation Commission Oct. 3 reviewed a proposed layout of Rose Park.
The park currently has a playground, picnic shelter and one ball field that has two practices or one game every weeknight during the season for six and seven year-olds and a small lot that can fit a dozen cars, according to parks and recreation commission chairperson Ted Butler. Others park in the grass or on the streets.
“It’s really been underutilized,” said Todd Haas, assistant director of public works.
The plan is to have two ball fields, a playground and a gravel parking lot that could fit 42 vehicles, according to Haas.
There once was a thought that Rose Park could be a good location for a hockey and free skating rink and warming house after the Crooked Lake Elementary School rinks and warming house close, but Haas said there will be no hockey at Rose Park and the rinks by the school will remain open for another winter while the park commission and Andover City Council contemplate location options.
“It didn’t sound like the neighbors were really interested in having it there,” Haas said of the hockey rink.
It appeared hockey could have been a welcome addition to the neighborhood after the city received resident surveys it always mails out to receive public opinion, but Haas said while five or six people supported the hockey rinks at that time, those same residents either did not come to or speak out during a city-hosted Rose Park neighborhood forum where everybody spoke against the rinks because they did not want the park lit up at night.
Haas said the two ball fields will not be lit because the six- and seven-year-old kids these ball fields are being built for do not play into the night as the older kids do. The youth football teams will still be able to practice in the outfield, which will not have a fence.
On the other hand, lights are necessary for hockey rinks, even for young kids, because it gets dark earlier in the winter, Haas said.
The only light planned right now is by the playground, Haas said.
Butler would like to see evergreen trees planted in the northwest area of the park to provide a visual buffer for the neighborhood.
Haas said the city is working with a cell phone company that wants to put an antenna on the water tower, but would need to build an accessory building for its equipment.
City staff are still working with the company to determine the best location in the park for this building so it does not interfere with the athletes and does not have a significant impact on a group of oak trees. There would be visual screening for this building, Haas said.
Due to the age of the ball players, the infield may not be grass to cut down on the city’s costs, but Haas said this is still being discussed as is the timing of the project.
Survey work will take place this winter and construction could start in the spring or after the summer baseball season is over if that is what the youth baseball association prefers, according to Haas.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org