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Residents Discuss What to do with Former Browne School Playground

At the first of several public meetings, residents told town officials what they wanted to see in the new park going in behind the new police station.

A skate park. An amphitheater. A picnic table area. A spray park. A place for street hockey. A basketball court. A children's fitness area.  A place for the Watertown Cops and Kids program to happen.

These were some of the ideas bounced around at a meeting earlier this month about how best to use the space that was the Browne School Playground, which sits behind the new police station at 552 Main Street.

The playground includes 200,000 square-feet of space, said Watertown Director of Recreation Peter Centola. He is looking to find out what neighbors and other town residents would like to see in the new park.

"We are looking to see what the community feels would be the most effective use of the space," said Centola.

The town has $200,000 to $300,000 allotted to this "priority project" according to Town Councilor John Donohue.

What stands behind the station today is a field with an 8-foot elevation difference from the top to the bottom. According to Glenn Howard, a consultant with Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc., a design team hired by the town, to level out the field would cost too much for the town, so it would be best to utilize the space as it is now.

"We are looking for ideas that would take advantage of the slope," Howard said.

He also mentioned various issues that could stand in the way of design ideas, such as mature trees, a water main going down the side of the entire field, drain lines in place, and possibly limited parking.

A big question at the meeting: who is the target audience for this new park area?

"I am," said Maria Caracno who lives on Partridge Street. "I have to either go to Waltham parks or go all the way down Main Street. We are talking about people from here (at 552 Main St.) towards Waltham."

The consensus of residents at the meeting was the park should be designed for children younger than middle-school age, which means 12 and below. They also agreed that any new constructions built in the area will be-age appropriate and consistent with the age group of the children playing on the tee ball teams.

After looking at the photo of the space the residents were asked to think outside of the box. There is a tee ball field located at the other end of the field and many community members were looking to expand the space into the outfield of the tee ball field because of the age of the kids playing the sport.

A main concern for many members of the community in attendance was that of parking availability. One idea discussed at some length was the idea of moving the tee ball field closer to the station and creating angled parking on Acton Street for the games and any other sporting event held there.

Howard said he will take the ideas from the meeting, and do the math to see what is feasible, and then create models to show the community and the Town Council. The draft plans for the park behind the Police Station will be unveiled Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.  in the Community Room of the new Police Station, 552 Main St.

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