|By G. Michael Dobbs
Richard Maciolek, the acting Parks and Recreation superintendent (left) and Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette display the sign that declares Chicopee as a “Playful City.”
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – A designation as a “2013 Playful City USA” will mean Chicopee will be able to apply for grants to help fund a plan to improve the city’s 30 parks.
Other city officials joined Mayor Michael Bissonnette on Aug. 6 at “Welcome to Chicopee” sign on Broadway to unveil a new sign proclaiming the city’s new title.
Bissonnette said that only three communities in the Commonwealth were named “Playful Cities” by KaBoom!, a nation program that promotes local policies the increase play opportunities for children and is sponsored by the Human Foundation. Only 217 municipalities received the title nation-wide.
According to information released by KaBoom!, Chicopee was selected because of a wellness plan developed by the Chicopee School Department to promote a healthy school environment.
Bissonnette said the first park for which they will apply for a grant is Nash Field, which he said hasn’t been updated for the last 30 years. He noted the park will be the terminus for the Connecticut River Walkway and should be improved.
Bissonnette added that other improvements to city parks include a second phase of renovations to Szot Park including bleachers, lockers rooms and a bathhouse. He said later this month he would announce details of a federal grant for Dana Park.
“We want to send a message to funders that we’re in for the long haul [of improvements to parks],” he said.
Bissonnette said the city would go after grant money for parks in the same way it has acquired funding for brownfield cleanups.
“When it works best, we send in a lot of paper and they send us back a check,” he said.
Bissonnette also said that Police Chief Thomas Charette is working on completing a program to have additional police presence in the parks,
Charette explained to Reminder Publications that he has been working out the details with the Patrolman’s Union to allow the city’s special or reserve police to donate six shifts a year volunteering from 2 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday as officers assigned to parks.
The reserve police would receive more experience by such duty and the incidents of vandalism and other crime could be lessened, he said.
Charette hopes to have the details worked out by Labor Day and he added he is looking into surveillance systems for some of the parks as well.
Vandalism caused the premature closing of the Wisniowski Pool, Richard Maciolek, the acting Parks and Recreation superintendent, explained. The city couldn’t not absorb the cost of draining and cleaning the pool, then re-filling it and adding the appropriate water treatment after someone broke several bottles into the pool.
Maciolek said the incident was “frustrating.”
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