Whalley Park remains incomplete, years in the making
| By Carley Dangona
SOUTHWICK – The creation of Whalley Park began in 2009 after the 70-acre park was established in honor of John Whalley IV. The park is still undergoing improvements, but officials anticipate its grand opening in the spring of 2015.
In an interview on Aug. 26, Selectman Joseph Deedy told Reminder Publications “It’s just been a series of unfortunate events. Apparently, we’re not smart enough to put a damn clause in the contract that [results in] penalties when work is not completed by its deadline.”
According to the 2013 annual report, JL Construction Corp., the lowest bidder for the project, began working on the site on Sept. 25, 2013.
Deedy noted that this is the same contractor for the track and field project at 86 Powder Mill Road, which began a few months ago and is nearing completion this week.
“It’s some poor [expletive] planning on somebody’s part,” Deedy commented.
He added, “They’re supposed to be seeding [Whalley Park] next week. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Thirty-five acres of the park are being developed for active recreation and the remaining land is being preserved as open space.
At a special meeting on Oct. 10, 2012, the Board of Selectman accepted the donation of the park and $100,000 for its maintenance from John and Kathy Whalley. The board also earmarked $1.5 million from the Community Preservation Unreserved Fund for the park’s completion.
In a Reminder Publications article entitled, “Town Increases Open Space With Park,” from Oct. 17, Daniel Call, member of the Park & Recreation Commission, stated the park was “80 percent finished.”
To date, the park remains incomplete.
Call provided the Board of Selectman with an update about the park on Aug. 11. He explained that the “punch list” is being completed and that the main need for Whalley Park is turf.
“We’ve certainly been monitoring what’s going on,” Call said, adding that Aug. 11 was the fifth time he’d gone before the board with an update. “We are hoping to be able to use all of the park by the spring of 2015.”
According to Call, the playscape will open this September once the paving is complete. He told the board that “the most significant item that needs to be completed” is the installation of turf, but that “many items of the punch list are underway.”
When Deedy asked how much the bill was for the park, Call responded that it was still under $100,000.
Deedy said, “We’ve been fair. This should’ve been done months ago.”