MANCHESTER — When the city’s first soccer mini-pitch facility was unveiled at Sheehan-Basquil Park over the summer, former Parks and Recreation Director Don Pinard said the facility was “just the beginning” of additional yet-to-be-finalized improvements at the site.
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New Parks and Recreation Director Mark Gomez has a message for residents of Manchester’s East Side — the future is now.
Residents interested in helping to shape the future of Sheehan-Basquil Park, off Maple and Auburn streets, are encouraged to attend a community-input meeting planned for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Beech Street School. Attendees will learn about potential options being considered for the area.
“This is an effort to really engage the community in developing a vision for the future of Sheehan-Basquil Park, Phase 2 of the renovation,” said Gomez. “With two other parks — as well as Gill Stadium and JFK Arena — all in the immediate vicinity, it’s likely this vision will also shape future decisions made at nearby recreational areas.”
The mini-pitch is built on the site of the former Adam Curtis Skate Park, built by Southern New Hampshire University in partnership with Major League Soccer, MLS Works and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. In 2018, the Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Division of the city’s Department of Public Works was offered a non-matching grant from U.S. Soccer and SNHU in the amount of $160,000 to cover construction of two 50-by-100-foot asphalt soccer areas in Manchester.
A second mini-pitch is expected to be built in the near future on the Queen City’s West Side, near the Parkside Middle and Gossler Park Elementary schools.
According to Gomez, the city currently has about $600,000 set aside for work at Sheehan-Basquil Park.
The mini-pitch “was the first step in adding new elements to the park,” said Gomez. “Nothing has been definitively ruled in or out at this point. We want to get neighborhood and stakeholder feedback first.”
Those unable to attend the neighborhood meeting are encouraged to complete an online survey that includes ideas for the park. The survey can be found in English at surveymonkey.com/r/ManchesterSBP, and in Spanish at surveymonkey.com/r/SBPManchester.
“One idea that has garnered significant support in our early discussions with community members and elected officials is installation of a splash pad,” said Gomez. “The splash pad at Rock Rimmon Park has been a big hit, so we’re looking to add one on the east side somewhere. Other things we’ve heard are a desire to address the loss of the former skateboard park and to provide ongoing support of the baseball leagues that use the four existing fields. We also want to make sure that any changes adequately consider safety and accessibility.”
Gomez said officials hope to settle on a design in the next few months, then begin the bid process. It’s likely that some new features will be installed in 2020, while others will be completed in 2021, Gomez said.