Project manager concerned over Nashua playground studyBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
June 02. 2014 8:49PM
NASHUA — Although a newly released study recommends the east side of Greeley Park for the future Legacy Playground, the project manager says he has legitimate concerns about that suggested location.
“I definitely have some concerns with the results of this study,” said Eric Brand, project organizer for Legacy Playground, which is designed to be the state’s largest fully accessible playground where children with and without disabilities can play together.
The independent, third-party study conducted by the Institute for Human Centered Design considered 10 possible sites in Nashua for the future play facility. The results of the study were released this past weekend, and will be formally presented to the Board of Aldermen during a presentation tonight.
Greater Leadership Nashua is spearheading Legacy Playground, and has raised more than $130,000 for the play structure that has yet to find a home. While Greeley Park has been the group’s first choice for the playground, Brand said he still believes the play facility should be built where the existing playground is located at Greeley — not on the east side as being recommended in the study.
“It is not that we want Greeley Park for this playground — it is that we want the best location,” Brand said on Monday.
The first two recommended sites by the Institute for Human Centered Design are Greeley Park East on the south side of the access road and Greeley Park East on the southeast corner near the softball outfield. Its sixth recommendation is Greeley Park West at the existing play area.
“It is gratifying to have this report confirm what our due diligence has shown for over almost a year — Greeley Park is the best site for placing a new, all-accessible playground,” said Brand. Still, he said locating the playground on the east side of Greeley Park would remove green space from the park area, something Greater Leadership Nashua has been trying to avoid and neighbors have already spoken out against in earnest.
“I have concerns about the grading in that area as well,” Brand said of the east side, adding it could cost upwards of $100,000 in additional funds in that area, since more ramping would likely be necessary.
On the west side, however, he said the group was able to work with the city engineer and playground equipment representatives to minimize the amount of ramp needed for the play structure. For every 12 feet of ramp utilized, the price tag jumps an extra $20,000 for each section, according to Brand.
“The east side would require additional ramping and additional costs that would override our budget,” he explained. It would also require fencing, which would not be necessary along the west side at the site of the existing, old playground, said Brand.
According to the 26-page report, the first recommended site on the east side of Greeley Park stood out as the best location because of its close proximity to accessible bathroom facilities and existing parking, along with relatively flat land for construction and walking.
“The setting is a hub of complementary recreational activity, yet at the same time benefits from large nearby trees, a ridge that can protect the site from wind and a scenic park setting that is already a regional destination,” says the study.
The consultants suggested that seating be added, shade trees be planted and an accessible route from the parking area to the playground be constructed if this option is selected, along with a barrier-free pedestrian route to the bathroom facilities.
The top seven sites recommended for the playground, in order of preference, include: Greeley Park East on the south side; Greeley Park East on the southeast corner; Kirkpatrick Park; Sargents Avenue between the baseball field and bottom of the slope; Sargents Avenue at the existing playground location; Greeley Park West at the existing play area; and Southwest Park.
Tonight’s presentation on the playground study will begin at 7 p.m. at Nashua City Hall. The full report is available at www.gonashua.com.