Living Memorial Park project comes alive

Lolatte describes ‘planning and legwork’ in anticipation of permitting for parts of $4.1 million park upgrades

BRATTLEBORO — Recreation & Parks Director Carol Lolatte is getting her ducks in a row as the Living Memorial Park Generational Improvement Project starts to take shape.

In March, Representative Town Meeting voted 98–19 to support a $4.1 million bond for the work, which includes improvements to the 1970s-era skating rink - replacing a 30-year-old condenser, a 25-year-old dehumidifier, and a rusting and uninsulated 49-year-old roof - as well as replacing lighting on the upper softball field with an LED system.

"The whole goal here is to start lining this stuff up so, for example, when the skating rink closes in March [2024], that we're ready to go," Lolatte said at a July 25 Selectboard update.

"When the softball season ends a year from this August, we're ready to upgrade the lights," she said. "I think the biggest chess piece that we're going to have is the maintenance building."

She said her number one goal "is to make sure that there's the least disruption for all programs and park users but, more importantly, to get a lot of this planning and legwork done because some of these projects will require Act 250 permitting."

Lolatte noted there is about $120,000 in current unassigned funds intended to start the project.

While the town finance director will not apply for the bond until November, Lolatte said she is "starting to move forward" and develop a request for proposal (RFP) for architects for skating facility projects, which include constructing the new roof, replacing the fire alarm and dehumidification systems, and upgrading R-22 insulation for needed engineering work.

"Everyone does support this project, but I think it's important because of the magnitude of the project that you do keep us informed, and I appreciate it," said Selectboard member Elizabeth McLoughlin, suggesting also that Lolatte ask local legislators to "give the Act 250 people a nudge."

The Vermont Natural Resources Board and the District 2 Environmental Commission are responsible for administering the environmental conservation law, whose complexity is reflected in a 51-page single-spaced document describing the permitting process.

Also slated for remediation are two maintenance buildings that no longer serve storage needs and expanding parking at the Kiwanis Shelter to include about 20 more parking spaces.

Asked if some costs, notably the high-ticket estimate for the maintenance buildings, had been re-examined, Lolatte said, "I always like to put the sharpest pen to the paper, and I'll continue to do that because the sharper the pen is, the less money has to be raised."

She added, "We don't want to compromise the project, but we want to get the best bang for our buck."

This News item by Virginia Ray was written for The Commons.

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