Minutes of April 19, 2016

SULLIVAN CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Sullivan Town Hall
April 19, 2016

Present:  Ginni McByrne, Jim McByrne, Roger Sweet, Wendy Pelletier, Eric White, Becky Cummings.  Also Leslie Casey (Planning Board), Peggy Martin (Recreation) and Laura Merrifield (Selectmen).

Minutes from the March meeting were accepted as read.

Eric introduced Leslie Casey (planning board) who came to present the results of her survey, “Sullivan Outdoor Public Space Planning”.  

To begin the discussion Becky gave a brief description of the history of the park.  The land was donated to the town by the Jewett family and was originally looked at as a site for a new town hall.  It proved to be full of ledge and unsuitable for that project and with the town’s bicentennial celebration in the near future suggestions were made for a park.  A federal grant was applied for and awarded to construct a park on the site.  Work continued for a few years, mainly by volunteers to get it finished in time for the celebration.  It had picnic tables (3 were covered), grills, horseshoe and volleyball courts and a wildflower walk.  At that time more things were going on in town with an elementary school, annual Old Home Day, after-school activities, etc.

Roger then told about the Dvoracheck Fund that had been set up for maintenance at the park.  Mr. D was a resident of Sullivan when he died and his family wanted to do something for the town.  Police Chief at the time, Karl Wheeler, suggested the trust fund for the park.  The fund is fairly small.

Following is a written report of the survey and this evening’s presentation which was written for the Sullivan Newsletter by Leslie Casey.
    The Planning Board is pleased to share the results of its planning survey with all of you. The overall objective of the survey was to provide data on the needs of Sullivan residents that would allow officials to better plan for use of outdoor public space. A full report can be found on the Sullivan town web site. Here are some highlights!
    The level of participation was very encouraging. In all, 57 completed surveys were handed in before the March 31st deadline (a response rate over 20% for the 282 households in town), representing 129 individual respondents. Of the responding households, 26 (46%) indicate that they would be willing to volunteer to help renovate the park by cutting brush, mowing, etc., which is wonderful to see!
    The demographic profile of the responding population was fairly representative of the town, with children and teens aged 19 years and younger at 14%, adults aged 20 to 64 years at 52%, and seniors aged 65 or older at 34%.
    The results of the survey tell us that the most popular activities are (1) attending events, (2) walking/snowshoeing, (3) gathering/picnicking and (4) relaxation/leisure. High demand was also seen for facilities for gathering/picnicking.
    Less popular activities (in descending order of popularity) were horseshoes or like, volleyball or like, and “use playground.” It is worth noting that while the proportion of responding households that would use a playground was quite low (25%), for those households that would use one the median frequency would be high (3 or more times per month).
    Sufficient interest was expressed that it may warrant a study being undertaken by the town to assess the feasibility of renovating and improving access to outdoor public space, the better to meet the needs of residents. The results suggest that efforts toward arranging more events in town and adding to or improving trails and picnic areas would be well-received. An added benefit of improving outdoor public spaces such as Jewett Park is that it could enhance the scenic beauty of the town while building community and a sense of place.
    It was agreed that the findings support the Commission’s idea of revitalizing the trail network from Jewett Park outward through volunteer efforts.

After Leslie’s presentation future plans were discussed for both the park and a trail system in town.  Eric explained that with the formation of the new trails committee he looks forward to making the park a center of the Sullivan circuit of trails.  Laura asked if any new trails in town are proposed.  At this time, none are planned and work will concentrate on cleaning up existing trails in town as well as Jewett Park.  Leslie does not foresee people using picnic tables and feels it is an idea that is 50 years old – mentioning Central Park in NYC which has benches only and people use those frequently.  Peggy said the Recreation Committee is willing to help out.   

Eric noted there has not been an “official designee” named to maintain the park although it seems to have most often fallen to the Conservation Commission.  Laura requested a plan be drawn up and presented to the Selectmen.  Roger thought perhaps a procedure could be implemented similar to the one for the Town Forest – all work to be done will be agreed upon by the Selectmen, Trustees of Trust Funds and Conservation Commission.  

Laura gave her concerns about requests for future funding.  She expects an increase in the next tax year and doesn’t feel the town can handle a larger budget at this time.  Jim suggested donations be requested, if there is a need.  At this time no requests for money are being considered.

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,
Becky Cummings