Earlier this month, planning and zoning committee members heard from Ryan Chmilewski, a landscape architect with engineering firm Weston & Sampson, about potential waivers related to land works and a special permit to use the park associated with the project. The first phase of the Bartholomew South project, which will see passive sports and recreation fields in adjacent areas of the existing park off Route 10, is scheduled to begin in the spring.
“The features of (the project’s master plan) remain the same,” Chmielevsky said during the September 12 meeting. Although some tree clearing will occur to make way for the proposed grander park, the majority of the existing boundaries will not change, with any new work retreating “at least 150 feet” from adjacent properties.
Chmielewski said Weston & Sampson have tried to match the existing track on the southern tip as best as possible, respecting the ancient vegetation there and trying to minimize staging effects.
But it is the concessions to the land works that have attracted the most interest.
The first assignment request was for rating within 50 feet of the property line so that “basic infrastructure between utilities, driveway entrance and rainwater infrastructure” could be installed, while the second request was for “five acres of disturbance limit” so that future contractors could operate outside these restrictions.
“We don’t want to limit the contractor to just five acres. If he can get the job done faster, that’s really what he’s about,” Chmelevsky said.
“We can grant this (waiver), provided there is no undue danger to the public,” said Commissioner Luis Todesco, reading from the city regulations. Do you have any say in it?”
Civil Engineer Joe Perugini, also of Weston & Sampson, replied, “In our plan group, we developed a phased plan for erosion and sediment control. We showed four different areas of phases. We try to give the contractor flexibility to choose which of these areas to work on, whether It was one or more areas. We have sediment traps the size of those turbulent areas. Each area is protected in its own right. Across the ocean, we are adhering to state requirements to double down on our sediment measures.”
However, Commission Chair Sean Strullo expressed his concerns. “When you have an open field of dirt and dust and all that stuff for the neighbors, that’s one of the reasons we tie up. If you lose a contractor in the middle of the whole deal, we’ll have a big dust bowl… and that makes me a little nervous.”
Perugini replied that they had a “state-mandated plan for the stormwater inspections required for this project,” explaining that after each “rainfall event,” an inspector would visit the site to survey everything from sediment to dust control and if standards were not met, the contractor would be required to “Repair and maintain these procedures.”
“Unless it’s Friday afternoon, then (inspection) it won’t be until Monday,” Strolo noted. “If they open a section and there’s a 9-foot trench and they leave it for the weekend, we have a big problem because there are a lot of kids out there and they go to the park. You wouldn’t limit those kids from doing that. We made these regulations for the safety of our town.”
“The goal is to close (the trenches) at the end of each day,” Chmielevsky explained.
Commissioner Jeff Natali suggested erecting temporary building fences, such as those along other sites around the city, for added safety.
Sylvia Glazer, a Cheshire resident, has expressed concerns about possible flooding and runoff in the River Mill, which flows along the southeast edge of Bartlem Park and near her property at Stonegate Court.
Perugini responded that “dual measures” would be implemented to control sediment and erosion along the disturbed area. “We can’t reduce it significantly but we can’t exceed the amount of runoff that drains into the Mill River, because there are wetlands which are a natural resource. But based on our calculations, we’re actually limiting the peak flow and runoff that drains into the Mill River.”
Town Planner Michael Glidden added that city employees will be directly involved in overseeing the progress of construction work. “They will know where the contractor is parked,” and will ensure that any conflict between park use and the contractor’s needs is proactively addressed.
Regarding the application for a special permit to expand uses in the park, Shmielevsky explained to the committee that “the great park is intended to function as a community gathering space without the need for active recreation to worry about. The existing baseball field is being converted into an illuminated artificial turf deck. There is passive entertainment in the ejection Old Chapman for “those people” who don’t really want to be in the sporting events zone.”
The new lighting system will be “sports lighting that benefits artificial turf,” which is LED and Dark Sky compatible, meaning all light is directed downward, and will provide a safe and efficient exit after the events.
“We have completed the photometric plan and there is no light trespassing through any property line,” Chmilewski added.
Commissioner Robert Brocato asked about the possible life span of the new grass field, which, according to Schmielewski, is approximately seven to ten years, depending on maintenance and use.
“Some towns can live up to 15 years,” Chmilyevsky said.
The plan also adds 139 new parking spaces, bringing the total to 468 – about 40% more – leading resident John Atwood to question how much parking is actually required.
“Green space is hard to come by. We lose a lot of park in the parking lot,” he said.
Although a new entrance has been added, it will not be accessible via Elmwood Drive, and left-turning on Route 10 will not be permitted. However, the implications of the additional traffic coming in and out of Bartolome Park were not lost on the Strollo.
“This is a nightmare,” he said.
“After we have successful site plan approvals, we will meet with the Department of Transportation and we will meet the design requirements for the state highway,” Chmielewski replied.