CPA funds sought for Hadley park, church steeple 

Staff Writer
Monday, January 17, 2022

HADLEY — Projects that include improving a community park and restoring the steeple on a historic church could be in line for support from the town’s Community Preservation Act account.

As the CPA Committee begins a process of reviewing and recommending proposals in advance of annual Town Meeting, with more than $2.5 million available in the account, one possible spending area is the continued overhaul of Zatyrka Park.

Park and Recreation Director Greg LaSage told the committee Monday that the park, at the corner of Huntington and Breckenridge roads, is a beautiful space, but needs to be made more user-friendly, and that residents need to have more reasons to go there.

While there is a walking trail that people use, including people who take their dogs out, and the site features a popular sledding hill during the winter, there is little else to draw people into the 6-acre site. That is despite the town investing $350,000 to build it out in three phases since 2016.

LaSage is requesting $22,500, or half of the $45,000 total, that would go toward purchasing two playscapes, one for children ages 2 to 5, the other for children ages 5 to 12.

Also included in the proposal are four 6-foot benches around the walking path, and a picnic table with a gazebo.

In 2020, an earlier plan for a series of fitness activities and an athletic court at Zatyrka was rejected by residents. But CPA Committee Chairwoman Mary Thayer said this latest plan is less expensive than the $110,000 that was proposed then, and this project would likely have broader appeal.

The second project presented Monday seeks $100,000 for a $110,000 fix of the steeple at the First Congregational Church on Middle Street. The church got money last year to enhance the 1909 Seth Thomas clock on the building.

John Schott, a church representative, said he is worried that the steeple could be compromised during high winds, and there is significant deterioration that dates to the 1800s.

“We’re looking at the long term of it, not just the Band-Aid approach,” Schott said.

Andy Morris-Friedman, a resident and consultant to the committee, said even though the money would go toward a religious building, the spending is eligible as the church is an important part of the viewshed of the historic town center, and is located next to Town Hall.