GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 12, 2013

Fixing Burnham's Field

City asking residents how $345,000 should be spent

Neighbors have seen Burnham’s Field grow more safe and clean in recent years, and now city officials are ready to revitalize and revamp central Gloucester’s largest green space, a backyard for many of urban Gloucester’s residents.

About $345,000 in state grants will allow for various upgrades for the field, which saw its last major facelift in 1984, according to Stephen Winslow, a project manager for the city. But, with multiple possibilities, city officials are looking to residents to help guide the decisions.

“It’s the people’s neighborhood park, so we want to hear what they want to do to improve their neighborhood,” Winslow said. “We want to spend this money in a way that makes this a better park. We want kids to play there and teens to hang there and have fun.”

That is why Winslow, along with Mayor Carolyn Kirk, Ward 2 City Councilor Melissa Cox and Open Space and Recreation Committee member John McElhenny are inviting area residents to a formal brainstorming meeting at The Hive on Monday, beginning at 6 p.m.

“Obviously we would like as much involvement and input as possible, especially at the first meeting, to get people’s ideas and a sense of what we can do to improve Burnham’s Field,” Winslow said.

Money for park improvements stems from two grants, according to Winslow. The state Department of Environmental Protection awarded $195,000 to the city for use on the park revitalization, and the remaining $150,000 comes from state community development block grants.

“It’s a start,” Winslow said. “With this much land, it’s sort of just a downpayment on where we hope to go.”

New lighting for the field and increased accessibility for handicapped people at entrance points are certain upcoming changes, Winslow said.

The community garden, wilted by frost, and the softball diamonds squishy with runoff, Burnham’s Field saw few visitors on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

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