A long-awaited project to spruce up the Hoppers-Birge Pond Nature Preserve got a final thumbs-up from park commissioners Wednesday.
“It looks great,” said Jean Letourneau, a neighbor who has been pushing for improvements at the park for two decades.
The $300,000 plan, which still needs the backing of land use panels, aims to overhaul the existing parking lot, add handicapped accessible walkways along the south end of the pond, install picnic tables and create parking along Ambler Road.
Also on tap are new flooring and rails for the old gatehouse slab that juts into the pond.
Sylvia Perdikis, manager of landscape architecture for the Meriden-based BL Companies, said there will also be a handicapped-accessible fishing platform near the spillway.
Cindy Donovan, a parks commissioner, asked if it would be possible to scale back on the stone walls and paths near the parking lots in order to have a trail that would circle the pond.
Park Director Ed Swicklas said there isn’t enough money to do the loop trail yet. That will have to wait for a second phase someday, he said.
Officials are hoping, though, to snag a state grant that would pay for a pedestrian bridge across the spillway so that people would not have to troop south to Ambler Road in order to get to the southern and western side of the pond easily.
Swicklas said that security cameras will likely be added in the future as well.
Officials aren’t sure how much lighting they want to include with the new project.
Swicklas said lighting may make the area more attractive as a late night hangout rather than deterring it.
If everything goes according to plan, the project should be underway next spring.
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