Huestis Park could soon undergo a multi-phase revitalization project as Kent officials aim to modernize the area and make it more appealing to community members and visitors.
After experiencing some embarrassment with the current condition of the park located off Farmers Mills Road, Recreation and Parks Director Jared Kuczenski approached the Town Board with a proposal to fully upgrade the green and provide a new set of amenities that can accommodate several sporting events, children of all ages, senior activities, and special needs.
The proposal also seeks to improve the parking area and install a pavilion with bathrooms. The park, which is Kent’s second largest, only offers porta potties.
“It’s a really cool area, it’s woodsy, it’s got a really nice air to it, but it needs a considerable amount of TLC,” Kuczenski said at the April 6 meeting. “With respect to parks, you want to improve the amenities you have and add new amenities that that will get different groups of people out who might not otherwise be served by what you currently offer.”
With many outdoor programs offered in Kent, Kuczenski said making Huestis Park more accessible will benefit both the town and residents. He noted with the park’s amenities currently in bad shape and lacking in services, the only logical path to achieving the goal of offering the community more is by undergoing a full upgrade of the parkland.
With sinkholes plaguing the current basketball court, Kuczenski is proposing the installation of a fenced in multi-use games area, also known as a MUGA, that can cater to multiple sports, such as basketball, tennis, floor hockey, pickle-ball, futsal, and more. It would require the area currently home to the playground to be blasted, cleared, re-sloped and paved, he said. He said the project could cost upwards of $150,000.
“This is something that would be very unique to the area but also is really necessary for Huestis Park,” Kuczenski said. “The reason for that is Huestis Park cannot be expanded upon; the land around it is either swamp or it’s rocky area. The only thing we can do is create something that allows us to combine all of them into one.”
With the playground in atrocious condition, Kuczenski suggested investing in a new and modern three-set play area that can satisfy multiple age groups. He also proposed relocating the playground to the front half of the basketball court area, noting the backside of the court is currently unusable due to erosion.
Kuczenski explained moving the playground would solve the problem of it being obscured by the hillside where it currently stands as it would be relocated to a more central area where it can be visible at all the fields and the parking lot. He said it would increase traffic to the playground and would provide parents a sense of comfort they don’t currently have.
A new playground could cost about $50,000 to install, he said.
Additionally, the proposal calls to remove and replace all perimeter fencing, a job that would total roughly $35,000 and add at least 15 extra parking spots to mitigate the hazard visitors face walking to their vehicles if parked within the flow of traffic.
Kuczenski said the lack of parking contributes to the limited activities and events that can currently occur at the park.
The last phase of the project would see the implementation of a small pavilion with bathrooms. While this idea was initially suggested as a potential goal, board members urged that it be placed in the finalized plan to appease those who visit the park once the upgrades are completed.
“There are so many opportunities for giving our community new, exciting things to do and I feel that with respect to Huestis Park, it’s the best thing for us to do for that park,” Kuczenski said. “We need to have an engineer who will do a concept and feasibility plan.”