Barre urged to take gradual steps in upgrading town park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2023 at 9:11 pm

Playground, restrooms, pickleball/tennis courts suggested before adding more fields

Photo by Tom Rivers: The pavilion and playground at the Barre Town Park are shown on Nov. 3, 2022.

BARRE – The Town Board was urged to take a gradual approach in moving to upgrade the town park with a new playground, and possibly a restroom and pickleball/tennis courts.

The town has a lot of space at the park and could add more fields, walking trails and other amenities in the back end of the property.

But Jason Foote, director of Parks and Recreation for the town, said the fields are currently underutilized. Barre used to host a summer soccer program but that shifted to the town-owned fields in Carlton.

Barre has youth baseball teams in the Albion Midget League. This year they practiced in Barre but didn’t have home games because of new drainage tile being installed. Foote said the drainage work has made a big difference and will help the fields dry out sooner after a rain.

He would like to see the Little League field be used for youth baseball and softball tournaments next year.

The town also has a full-size field for the teen-agers and adults who play baseball.

Foote advised the Town Board at last week’s board meeting to not look at developing more fields, but instead focus on keeping their existing fields in top condition.

“Let’s take care of the two fields we have and make them the two best fields in the county so people want to come here,” said Foote, who has coached the Barre Cubs youth baseball team for many years.

The town park on Route 98 opened about two decades ago. It currently has porta-potties, but Foote told the Town Board a better option to make the site more attractive to local residents and visiting teams would be to have permanent restrooms.

If there were restrooms, Foote said the park could be marketed for flea markets and other events.

He also said courts for pickleball, tennis and basketball would likely be frequently used.

He would like to keep the existing playground and add a Ninja Warrior-style playground that has been paid for with fundraisers by the Barre Betterment Committee.

The Town Board said they liked the concept plan suggested by Foote, but want to have a joint session with the Barre Betterment Committee, Barre Park Committee and the Town Board to discuss the next steps with the park.

Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said the park is 60 acres, but only about 15 are utilized right now. He said a simple hiking trail could make better use of the entire park.

Foote also said a disc golf course and cornhole boards are also new amenities that wouldn’t require much maintenance from the town.

He discouraged the town from adding more fields, which would be more upkeep for the town and may not have much use in the immediate future.

“I don’t think the right direction is putting in more fields,” he said.