Safety complex, park upgrades top Murray’s list

Safety complex, park upgrades top Murray’s list

Mayor wants ice rink at Diamond Hill or Tucker

CUMBERLAND – At the top of Mayor Bill Murray’s list of initiatives for 2018 is completing the John J. Partington Public Safety Complex by December.

Next on Murray’s agenda? Making improvements to local parks, including a new ice rink and playground, upgrading the town’s water systems, and encouraging development of underutilized properties, among other things.

Murray said he met with all of his department heads to start the year, hearing their goals and boiling them down to some of the most important ones. Still to be determined is how much of the list will be completed, he said.

Murray has several recreational upgrades planned for Diamond Hill Park, including a new playground as well as a town ice rink, either at Diamond Hill Park or Tucker Field, he said.

Also this year, the town will be moving forward with the task of transferring highway operations to the former Pascale Landscape Construction property off Mendon Road, a facility officials expected to purchase by Wednesday, Jan. 10. Murray expects officials will also make a decision on what to do with the Kent Street garage, the facility the Highway Department is vacating.

Officials will also decide this year what to do with the current police station on Diamond Hill Road once it is vacated for the new safety complex across the street.

The signing of a purchase agreement on the Mercy Woods Preserve, a 229-acre parcel of land in the northeast corner of town being purchased for open space, will happen in the coming weeks after town officials learn the status of their grant application with the state, said Murray. Once that purchase is completed, the town will move forward with development of 2.5 acres of recreation space on the property. That work will tie in with the planned upgrades at Diamond Hill Park, said Murray.

Murray said he hopes to move forward with an overhaul of the ski lodge at Diamond Hill Park, a project he and his staff are also planning to complete using grant funding.

Later this month, the Town Council will be considering new zoning regulations for underutilized properties such as Ann & Hope and the McLaughlin & Moran property. Making it easier for such properties to be redeveloped through revised zoning rules should provide a “big economic boost to us,” said Murray.

Town employees this year will be continuing work on the development of wells at both Franklin Farm and Schofield Farm, upgrades expected to expand the town’s water resources to accommodate further growth, said the mayor.

Also at Franklin Farm, where an exterior restoration of the old farmhouse is nearly complete, town officials plan to seek more grant money this year to restore the inside of the structure and convert it into an educational center and town museum.

With Town Planner Josh O’Neill leaving Cumberland to fill a planning job with the state, taking his skills as a grant writer with him, the town is looking to hire a new planner with a background in grant writing and will share that employee with the schools, said Murray. There may also be a chance for a partnership between the town and schools on maintenance functions, he said.

The mayor’s budget this year could include a “slight tax increase,” said Murray. Funding levels for schools must still be determined, he said, and next month he expects to announce the recommendations of his blue ribbon commission on school funding, which has been meeting for the past several months behind closed doors.

The 2018-2019 budget will include funding for three additional police officers, to be used in part to ramp up traffic enforcement, said Murray.

Town residents should expect a number of bond questions on the November ballot, said Murray, including money for school upgrades and more road repaving. The town will continue its multi-year paving program this year, he said.

Officials are working with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management on properly capping the old Albion dump, which was closed 35 years ago, said Murray. He said he would like to see the development of a solar farm there, one that could power all municipal and school buildings.

Also in 2018, residents should expect cleaning up of the town’s data systems, making it easier to find key information kept on file at Town Hall. The current process for finding information is a “nightmare most of the time,” said Murray.

A secondary tier of initiatives Murray said officials will be working on this year include final development of a conservation and management plan for the Cumberland Monastery, final cleanup and restoration of Heritage Park in Valley Falls, continued work on the Broad Street Regeneration Initiative, completion of the town’s aerial mapping of all properties, and expansion of the Teen Center at the Cumberland Public Library.

Comments

why not restore the weeded up small pond area at the monastery that used to be used as an Ice Rink back in the day ? I've heard many residents mention it!

I believe that problem has to do with the DEM and is considered
wetlands. A controlled burn off would do it good and ready for use in no time But remember where you are in the Big M .

the nature lovers believe this pond is natural, not man made, and wont let anyone touch it for active recreation

Here we go again!!!!
Mr Mayor and your team keep up the good work!!!!!

I agree 100% with Brian's post about the Monastery Pond by Diamond Hill Rd. DISGRACEFUL condition to what is a gem of the town. Come on Mr. Mayor, get that gateway to our beautiful town polished up.

of course, so let it get overgrown and be natural... bah... when i moved here 10 years ago it at least had water in it, now it sits barren and full of flies and muck..

I grew up with that ice rink at the Monastery. It wasn't that great. We can do better.

The Mayor is doing a good job thibodeau. No one said otherwise. The fact is, the man-made "pond" visible from Rt. 114 is now filled with sand and weeds. (Sand flows in from the drain on Rt. 114 after about 30 winters) All I'm suggesting is, cleaning it up. Leadership has never seemed to understand what a gem the Monastery is and that 300 yd stretch along Rt. 114 is in really shabby shape. Short money to clean it up. Remove the poison ivy, brush etc. So relax, I love the Mayor too but he needs to open his eyes while driving past the Monastery.

The ice rink was never maintained by the town from the beginning. It was us parents and neighborhood kids who got together to keep it shoveled. The tradition just never carried on through the next generations. The sprinkler never worked like intended to keep a spray of clean ice on top. It is too bad, bc it was a great thing to have. Occasionally we did get the fire dept to come water it down, but that tradition also never carried on either.

Sure we can. And it's already there so make it better. We can do better with many things, including sidewalks. Keep it civil folks...

What a wonderful idea to have a place for residents to ice skate. I remember skating on that pond in the front of the Monastery! But of course, there are those who would scream NO RECREATION at the Monastery! A shame. Such as waste of natural resources there. What a lovely setting for family recreation that is being missed out on by such strict regulations. There could be benches and a warming firepit, changing hut, etc. Alas, but if not at the Monastery, perhaps the pond at Diamond Hill Park?