NORTHFIELD - The first steps toward revitalizing Birch Grove Park began in November, with the installation of new playground equipment.
But also on the "to do" list will be repairing the park's picnic area and outdoor fireplace near the park center, new benches for the bandstand area, and the installation of pickleball and basketball courts.
The upgrades to the city's favorite park is intended to allow it to host more activities and make the space more of a destination for specific things, said City Councilman Greg Dewees.
Dewees said City Council wants the park to appeal to all ages and offer a wide array of activities. The city is also explore incorporating food trucks into some events and hopes to reopen the park center for use by the community.
The work began in June, when the city approved the purchase of new playground equipment.
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The equipment arrived in early October, on a delay attributed to supply-chain issues and installation began later on Nov. 14.
“We decided to take advantage of the good weather in October, and remove the existing equipment to be able to prepare the site (for the new equipment),” Dewees said.
Original plans called for the old Birch Grove Park equipment to be repurposed at a playground on First Street. After further examination it was seen that none of the old equipment was in suitable condition to be repurposed, so it was recycled, according to Dewees.
General Recreation Inc. is handling installation and the total cost of this project is $128,700.
The city is using funds from its share of American Rescue Plan.
“These types of one-time expenditures are ideal for use of ARP funds, as there isn’t an ongoing cost to the residents in the years to come,” Dewees said.
The use of the American Rescue Plan Act, sometimes called the COVID-19 stimulus package, allowed the city to replace all the equipment at once, instead of piece by piece.
The new equipment is designed for kids from ages 2 to 12. There will be swings, slides and other pieces that allow for independent play.
“The park is Northfield’s crown jewel. It makes our town more attractive and is part of why people choose to live here and raise their families here," Dewees said. We want everyone to have a reason to visit the park."