May 29, 2009

Final phase of Rockwell Park renovation poised to start in July

The final phase of a $7 million overhaul of Rockwell Park – which includes refilling the long-drained lagoon – will get underway this summer and ought to be nearly finished by winter.

Park Director Ed Swicklas said the final part of the three-year project to renovate the historic West End park calls for fixing the lagoon area as well as repairing stone towers and the columns on the bridge across the Pequabuck River.

A Bristol company, Mastrobattisto Construction, won the $2.33 million contract to carry out the final phase of the project by submitting the lowest of five bids for the work.

“This economy almost did us a favor” by holding down the expense, Swicklas said, allowing officials to get more work done for a better price than expected.

The second phase of the renovation, which focused mostly on Mrs. Rockwell’s Playground and some recreational facilities nearby, is nearly done.

Swicklas said they should be complete by the end of June.

“We’re right on track, hopefully, to bring that park back to life,” Swicklas said.

The $500,000 skatepark that opened last fall has already served to bring people back into the park. Swicklas said it’s attracting as many as 500 young people daily.

The toughest part of the remaining project is to get the planned wetlands that will take up the eastern half of the lagoon done correctly, officials said. It will be hard to have it exactly right, they said.

The plan for the final phase 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 project’s goal is to pump life back into a dying park, to bring people back into one of the city's crown jewels, an 87-acre park that industrialist Albert Rockwell donated during the Progressive Era.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

This article reminded me that I need to call City Hall and file a complaint. Thats nice the construction will start again soon, but in the meantime the city REALLY needs to close the playground area until it is fully finished. Its a very dangerous place for kids right now. Construction equipment and debris is all over the damn place. My son tripped on a sheet of steel mesh that was layin at the bottom of the slide. The sidewalks are only half finished and have big gaps in them. And another kid got hurt on something else and was bleeding and crying while we were there.
After my don tripped, I noticed that maybe someone ripped down the flimsy orange plastic construction fence and maybe the playground wasn't really open yet? I'm not sure, but in any case I have no idea why it is sitting there unfinished and in the open. Why isn't it fenced off with a high metal fence? Major liability issue and risk if someone gets really hurt or dies. It's dangerous and they are lucky someone doesn't sue the town and construction company.
The cops should be on patrol as well. We were at the park for 2 hours and didn't even see one cop drive by.

Anonymous said...


More photo ops for Art, like he needs more.

Anonymous said...

Yep, spend more millions on Parks, but cut road repair in half, cut back on Education.

Good going Mayor!

Anonymous said...

Let's get real here for a moment. $7 million dollars. Not a dime of that money went to promoting people to spend money on downtown Bristol or even in Bristol. Great, our $500,000 skate park is state of the art and draws kids from all over. Then we get the place trashed a few times. Kudos to the kids that are making efforts to police the area, but what happens when the trash starts to end up in the lagoon as it inevitably will. Nobody will be wading in that cess pool to get the trash out. Even if this 7 million dollar project generated 3% revenue hey thats a start. IT generates ZERO revenue for the town of Bristol. Reality check. All it takes is some of the bad apples that live in that section of town or elsewhere to start peddeling their influences onto good kids and voila! Without supervision you have the perfect mixture for a ticking time bomb. Just under 15 million dollars to re-scape and replant Brackett, North Main and Main including Rockwell, all repackaged tax money that just fell out of the sky. Plainville and Southing have built their bases back up and here we are stuck with Mr. Ward. Mr. Rosenthal and this inept city council.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor is talking about layoffs of city workers and we have $7 million to spend on a park? Something is terribly wrong here I'm afraid. Art Ward is a big fan of any feel good project that will keep him in the papers and maybe help him get re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Spend this kind of money while laying off employees? Now that's moving Bristol BACK-WARD.

evident said...

too bad that these posters are too stupid to know that the rockwell money couldn't be used for anything else but the park - ignorance reigns on these blogs.

Anonymous said...

Aw, come on now 6:34 - You're going to ruin it for the naysayers! They don't let little things like facts get in their way. Geez, how are they gonna keep bashing if you go and tell the truth! Spoil sport!

メル友募集 said...

最近仕事ばかりで毎日退屈してます。そろそろ恋人欲しいです☆もう夏だし海とか行きたいな♪ 連絡待ってるよ☆