April 11, 2009

Lagoon to be refilled at Rockwell Park

The city is moving forward with plans to finish the $7 million overhaul of Rockwell Park by the summer of 2010.

Mayor Art Ward said the project is worth the money because of its contribution “to the betterment of the community.”

“With people taking fewer vacations and feeling the pressure of the econmy, we want to get the most utilization out of our park system,” the mayor said.

The final phase of the park renovation – the renovation and reopening of the long-drained lagoon – is the most costly item on the city’s list of proposed projects for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Taking care of the lagoon and aging bathhouse at the historic West End park will cost about $2.5 million, but it won’t include restoring the beach or making it possible for anyone to swim there again.

Park Director Ed Swicklas said there was no reasonable way to restore the swimming beach.

The new plan calls for extending the stone wall around the entire lagoon area and filling about half of it with more than 9 feet of water. The other half would be turned into a wetlands area that would allow visitors to view a swampy habitat and the creatures that live in one, including birds.

Rockwell Park, which is on the National Historic Register, was created almost a century ago to provide a place for working people to get out and enjoy nature in a rustic setting. For decades, it was one of the most thriving spots in town.
But during the past twenty years, it became increasingly forgotten and neglected. Its much-loved lagoon, which older residents remember as a summertime staple, was drained a decade ago after swimmers came down with a mysterious rash and health officials recommended the end to swimming there.

The problem generally is that development near the park has gradually dried up the sources of water that used to flow into the lagoon. Alternative sources, including the Pequabuck River, were too costly, officials said.

The initial part of the project improved parking lots, added a skatepark and made a new entrance on Park Street.

The second phase, which is underway, is putting in new playgrounds, a spray park, a new restroom and more.

The overall goal is to create a park that offers more parking, better walkways, much more lighting and other amenities aimed at pulling people back into the park and upping its safety.

In the end, “it’s affording more opportunity for more people” to use it, Ward said.

The project list that includes the Rockwell renovation has received the backing of a key committee and is likely to be included in the municipal budget tentatively slated for approval on June 4 at a joint session of the Board of Finance and City Council.

Rockwell Park at a glance

Created in 1911 as a gift from Albert and Nettie Rockwell, the 103 acres included Mrs. Rockwell’s Playground, a lagoon and trails through a rustic setting.

It proved an immediate hit with Bristol’s working families and became a summertime hangout for generations of the city’s young people.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

But he cut back on the Library, where people out of work have indicated, nationwide, that the library provides services for them in finding employment.

Guess Ward figures if you don't have a job you can go swimming.

Anonymous said...

Hey Art, did Klocko tell you it was OK?

blurred vision said...

Library hours were only cut on winter Sunday's in order to save the double-time costs of over $25,000. Besides most of the snow storms were on Sundays so the library would have been closed anyhow, you illiterate jug-head.

Anonymous said...

The minnows and snapping turtles are indebted to Ed Swicklis and Art Ward forever.

Anonymous said...


If they would have been closed due to snow, why did Ward close them?
Also, they were still needed, are still needed.
Did he close anything else?

Of course, we know thta Ward doesn't use the Library: do you?

Anonymous said...

blurred vision uses backward thinking. Someone points out a fact that shows arties true vision of Bristol and just call them names. Like his record for the first two years put money in dirt with his friends and take it from the minds of people who want to learn.

CLUELESS said...


Anonymous said...

A spray park? That's for these inner-city kids who never learn how to swim, right?

Anonymous said...

"Someone points out a fact that shows arties true vision of Bristol"...

Unfortunately, that "someone" hasn't the foggiest idea what's going on in Bristol (it sounds like walking while chewing gum is a challenge for this individual), never mind, what's going on in Art's head. Blurred vision is right on the money!

Anonymous said...

This is a classic example of a city that has no absolute grounding in reality. Seriously, look what theese people are saying. 7 million to fill a lagoon because the "stressed"out residents of the West end don't work and need a place to swim. $11.6 in continuous projects even though our reval left us with about +2 million more for the budget than 2007. 800k for a new fire house. Those 3 projects alone are just under 19 million dollars. That would go a long way in negotaiating a new contract for employees. Oh and that doesn't include the cost of now many more times the Bronze militia man at Rockwell will get broken or the park itself gets spraypainted again.The same goes for Brackett park too. Nice we spent all that money just to see hoops get ripped out and havae it spraypainted. The only thing that I don't agree with is that some money sould go towards these roads. Witches rock Rd. is like a nightmare after connecting the new water customers up. Every single attachment either heaved or sunk. Driving that road is liek driving a video game. Crews have been up there at least 4 times already to fix it and its still a giant pot hole. so in recap Axe these projects, because not one of them is needed, save just under 19 million and maybe toss a little of that towards the roads in Bristol which the budget was going to get cut in half anyways. If and when we have th 7 million, the parks get fixed. Until that point, go swim at Page or Giamatti.

Anonymous said...

Thats right, add to the park, then ask for more people and money to maintain it, seasonally.

Let the schools deteriorate, let the roads go to pot.

Great move Mr. Ward.

Anonymous said...

i thought the real reason the lagoon was closed was due to the rash that everybody got after swimming in the water. they couldnt find the real reason people were breaking out. funny thats not mentioned

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how far it is around the main walking pathway at Rockwell Park? Just curious.

Steve Collins said...

Um, 4:06 -- That's in the story.

Anonymous said...

Lagoon will be filled, but there will be NO SWIMMING - not even the dogs.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the city spending 7million dollars doing over Rockwell Park. With all the parks in the city that have currently been renovated have you ever seen the equipment that the park department employees have to use to maintain those parks, (IT"S JUNK). The trucks are old and worn down, the trailers to transport the mowers are home made patch work. It amazes me that they get the work that they have to do done. If you ever want to see their junk equipment just take a ride over to Rockwell Park where it's stored and see for yourself. I think they should first update their own equipment so that they can maintain the parks they have before they start renovating more parks.

Anonymous said...

"there will be NO SWIMMING - not even the dogs."

Too bad. Looks like you're out of luck!

Anonymous said...

fix it all they want i much rather bring my child to page park

WHO CARES said...