Neighbors raise more concerns about Stratford splash pad plans

March 1, 2019

STRATFORD — Nearly everybody agreed plans for a splash pad in Juliette Low Park presented at a public meeting Thursday looked great.

It’s just that most who weighed in on the plans said they’d look even better if the park were put near the Stratford Academy-Johnson House school.

The Town Council — which voted last month to refer the plans for the splash pad at Juliette Low Park to the Planning Commission — will have the ultimate say on what will happen.

A community meeting on the issue is scheduled for March 7 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Birdseye Municipal Complex at 468 Birdseye St.

The Planning Commission will discuss the issue at a meeting scheduled for March 19.

During a meeting Thursday of the Community Development Subcommittee, Deputy Public Works Director Raynae Serra presented four different plans for the splash pad — three different orientations at Juliette Low Park and one off Sedgewick Avenue near Johnson House.

She said the idea to put the splash pad at Juliette Low Park made more sense to officials for a number of reasons, like the availability of space for parking and restrooms, and other plans to build a pavilion in the park.

“It’s a beautiful park that has a lot of unused space,” she said. “It’s underutilized right now.”

Officials also worried that the Johnson House location would necessitate expensive fencing or netting between the splash pad location and a nearby ball field, she said.

The splash pad at Juliette Low would cost roughly $500,000, she said, though she noted that estimate was “very preliminary.” At Johnson the price tag would be more than $600,000.

“When you look at the big picture, the pros, the cons, the bang for the buck you’d get out of Juliette Low, it just seemed to make sense,” Serra said.

However, residents of the area said they’d rather see the splash pad at the Johnson House location. Many also spoke at a Town Council meeting last month objecting to the splash pad being at Low Park.

Rene Gibson said she likes Low Park the way it is because it’s a “four-season park” in a densely developed area.

“It’s environmental. It’s green. It’s nature,” she said, noting concerns about water runoff by adding the splash pad. “I’m grateful that you are going to bring it to fruition eventually. But not at Juliette Low, please.”

Elene Crosby worried about children crossing busy Woodend Road to get to the park, as well as trash, loud music, and people parking on the street.

Mayor Laura Hoydick said those speaking at Thursday’s meeting raised some “very, very valid points” that officials needed to consider and if necessary modify the plans.

“Everyone’s points are really well made. The safety of children and families is the most important thing,” she said. “We’ll have to take a step back and see what’s the priority.”

After the meeting, the mayor said she looked forward to hearing more input from the public so that the Town Council can make a more informed decision.