Rename it Plastic Park
February 15, 2004
We must have arrived at the peak of our resort development and have started sliding down the backside. It has been predicted.
Lodges are disappearing and being replaced by high-end hotels and timeshares; we have lost most of our locally owned retail shops; the workforce has had to move farther and farther away to afford to live; real estate offices occupy ground-level retail spaces on the mall. We have built a large recreation center, primarily for local family use, which is struggling financially. Parking is difficult to find. Et cetera.
We must compete. We must upscale. We will do just about anything to bring in money, more money, event money, including the selling of our parks.
Wagner Park has historically been a “passive” park. Two major events, one in the spring and one in the fall, have become traditions ” the Food and Wine Festival in the early summer, Ruggerfest in the fall. The grass has survived both events, as well as the huge crowds gathered for two nights of fireworks ” the 4th of July and Wintersköl.
About three years ago, the city approved $750,000 to upgrade Wagner Park, including digging up the grass and earth to a depth of several feet, regrading the ground base to allow for proper drainage, adding new soil and resodding with grass suitable for our altitude. That didn’t happen.
As part of the project, still to be put in is a narrow winding path, some tables and benches on the Monarch Street side of the park and large stopped-down rocks for seating at the Durant end. A volunteer citizen committee participated in the overall development of the project.
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All of the funds were used for the new toilets and storage building, clock tower, the public circle and benches and the new play area. A really good use of the funds for the west and of the mall, I think. But the project was never finished.
Through all of the construction, the park continued to be used by small groups of ball players, after-school small-kid soccer practice, Frisbee throwers and catchers, lawn loungers and picnickers. It is a nice place to just sit and mountain/people-watch.
As has been pointed out in other letters to the editor, we have plenty of sports and heavy-use parks in the upper valley. We have free bus access to all of them. We do not need to turn Wagner into another one. Let’s keep the grass real.
If the artificial turf goes into Wagner Park, perhaps a better name for it would be Plastic Park. It would seem to suit the direction we’re taking as a small mountain town/destination resort trying to upgrade and high-end everything in sight. And fake grass!