Everett prepares to upgrade Glendale Park

Everett is preparing to begin work on a major upgrade of one of its prize recreational assets.

The City Council recently authorized the city to borrow $2.6 million to renovate Glendale Park, including rebuilding the athletic fields and perimeter walking path.

The project, funded in part through a $500,000 state grant, is targeted to begin this fall, with the new fields to be ready in April and the overall work completed by next summer or fall.

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Melissa Murphy, chief of staff to Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr., said the park, at Elm and Ferry streets, is part of an area “that we now refer to as the center of the city,” noting that it also includes the new high school, the city recreation center, and the Allied Veterans Memorial rink and pool.

“Kids and families use the park for sports, both organized and unorganized, and for walking on the track. It’s important for us to maintain the integrity of the park,” she said.

The project is part of $16.2 million in capital improvements that DeMaria proposed for this fiscal year. Final approval of the remaining items is pending before the City Council, which comprises the Board of Aldermen and the Common Council.

The Common Council on Aug. 20 approved DeMaria’s request to authorize bonding for the whole package, including $7 million for the Glendale Park project and other improvements, and $9.2 million for water system improvements.

But aldermen on Aug. 27 approved only the Glendale Park upgrade and $500,000 to repair the façade of the Parlin School. The board referred the other items from that $7 million request — including $3 million in road and sidewalk work — and the entire $9.2 million water bond to the Finance Committee for more discussion.

At its meeting last week,  the Finance Committee voted to recommend approval of the remainder of the $7 million bond request after amending it to cut $100,000 from the $200,000 proposed for crosswalks. It also voted to recommend the full $9.2 million water bond.

Aldermen on Monday are set to take up the recommendations. If they vote favorably, the bonds will have been authorized since the Common Council earlier approved the two bonds in full.

All the projects included in the bond requests are part of a $50 million long-term capital spending plan proposed by DeMaria and approved by the City Council in May. The new city charter required the mayor to submit a long-term capital plan to the council this year and then to submit annual updates.

Murphy said the $7 million bond would be repaid within the existing tax rate. The water bond would be repaid through the city’s water revenues, with $4 million from zero-interest loans provided through the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Built in the early 1900s, the approximately 4.5-acre Glendale Park is one of Everett’s largest and most heavily used open spaces, according to James Errickson, director of planning and development. He said it also provides playing fields — a baseball diamond and two softball fields — that serve the new high school, which opened in 2007.

When the new high school was built on what were then the park’s terraces, the project did not involve renovation to the fields or other remaining park spaces, Errickson noted.

“When you have the primary park in your city starting to show some of its age, with this brand new building behind it, there is a sense of community pride” to restore the park as well, he said. “People are still proud of the park; they call it a gem of the city. But they have a desire to have it shine even more.”

Errickson said the project calls for installing a new irrigation system, improving drainage, and reseeding the grass on the playing fields. New fencing also will be placed around the field and new lighting installed.

The walking path around the perimeter of the park will be rebuilt and period lighting installed. Errickson said the lighting will improve safety and be an aesthetic enhancement.

Other project features include replacing the current tot lot with one twice its size, adding entranceways to the park, and installing a new fence around the park.

There also will be new landscaping, benches, and trash receptacles.

“Essentially, the entire park is being completely upgraded,” Errickson said.

The proposed road projects would involve repaving streets, repairing sidewalks, and adding crosswalks. The work would be in addition to the projects the city is carrying out this year with its $660,000 allotment of state road improvement funds.

The city also would repair the entrance of the city’s emergency management center and the interior of the police stations, and design repairs to its Central and Hancock fire stations.

The water projects include installing 8,800 electronic water meters at homes across the city, purchasing new Water Department vehicles, and replacing water mains in various neighborhoods.