Members of the town’s economic development department and park planning committee presented the plans for the park, to be located on a town-owned lot at the corner of Country Club Road and Route 100, between Dover Forge restaurant and 7-Eleven.
Economic development specialist Ken Black described a design that would complement both the existing Valley Trail, which passes by the western side of the lot, and the town’s proposed Route 100 landscaping plan. The plan calls for a line of trees and plantings along the west end of the one-acre park, interrupted by a path connecting the Valley Trail to the park. A 46’ by 46’ playground area is planned for the south side of the park, closest to the Dover Forge. “The committee tried to have something that’s a reasonable amount for kids to play on without taking up the entire acre,” Black said. “But kids can play anywhere in the park.”
Eight parking spaces serving the park and the Valley Trail would be created along Country Club Road, separated from the play area by a row of trees and other plantings. Benches and picnic tables would be scattered through the park, and the middle of the park would be dominated by a 16-foot-diameter gazebo. The park will even be part of Dover’s Wi-Fi zone.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Black. “We wanted it to appeal to a lot of different demographics.”
Black said the gazebo will have steps at the front and a ramp for universal access at the back of the structure. There will also be access to electrical power at the gazebo, so the space can be used for public performances.
Adam Levine questioned whether the gazebo was large enough for functions. “In my opinion, 16 feet is extremely small for the area and the objective.”
Black said the committee had considered larger sizes, but decided the 16-foot gazebo best suited the park. “We started at 20 feet,” said Black. “But we looked at price and functionality, and 16 feet seemed more realistic from a price standpoint.”
“It may sound small, but it’s pretty substantial,” added economic development assistant Linda Anelli. “Brattleboro’s gazebo is 12 feet in diameter, and they have bands that use it.”
“How are you going to take care of the dogs?” asked Eddie Barber, the former owner of the property. “You already have problems on the Valley Trail.”
Black said the town planned to install and stock a dispenser for doggie waste bags. “You’ll be responsible for picking up any dog droppings,” Black said.
Responding to a question from Dover parent Carrie Dix, Black said maintenance of the playground, including resealing the wood play structures to prevent cracking and splintering, would be included in an annual budget. Black also noted that the committee had considered two types of cushioning groundcover for the playground, woodchips and a shredded rubber product. The comment sparked a debate on the merits of both.
“My only issue with woodchips is that we have a very wet spring and early fall,” said selectboard member Joe Mahon. “A lot of times the playground can’t be utilized because of the mud. I hope you’ll put good drainage in so it won’t become muddy like the playground at the (Dover) school and in Wilmington.”
Anelli said the woodchips that would be used “aren’t the garden variety,” and were treated for use in various extreme climates. “In extreme climates they have found they have to be refreshed an inch or so every one to three years.”
“Are there any playgrounds in Vermont utilizing rubber?” asked Mahon.
“There are very few places across the country who spend the money,” said Anelli. “Most customers can’t find the value.”
Dix noted that the toddlers playground in Wilmington uses the rubber mulch.
Levine urged the committee to ensure that the park fits the needs of Dover residents. “We shouldn’t cheap-out on anything,” he said. “We should be getting what’s best for us. That’s what that money is there for. If we have to spend an extra $25,000 to get the right park instead of a compromise, I’d advise you to get the best.”
The total projected cost is $111,457, including a contingency for cost overruns. But Black said the number was likely to change by the time the plan is approved and construction might begin.
Of the total, the highest cost would be for the playground, at $23,473. The gazebo’s estimate was a close second at $23,361. Lighting is estimated at $14,000, and other elements of the park were all under $10,000 each.
Most members of the public at the meeting appeared to be enthusiastic about the park, urging the committee and selectboard members to move forward with the plan. “I watch the use of the Valley Trail every day, and I think this is perfect,” said Levine. “It complements the way people use the Valley Trail. There really is something for everyone. Thank you.”