Pynchon Park, Rarely Accessible Since 1976, Reopens After Renovations
Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010, 1:34 PM Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010, 4:16 PM
SPRINGFIELD – Pynchon Park is back.
City officials, downtown business representative and residents gathered Thursday to celebrate the newly renovated and reopened park on Dwight Street in downtown Springfield.
Where there was once a fenced-in, closed park, there is now “a vitality,” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said.
“We owe it to the residents of downtown, our visitors and to the general public to properly maintain our property,” Sarno said. “This park will offer the residents a tranquil location and let future visitors know we care about our great city.”
A wrought-iron fence was moved from the front entrance to a stairway that leads to a second level. A waterfall has been repaired and reactivated, resurrecting the park after many years of limited use, neglect and disrepair, officials said.
Improvements also included repairs to the electrical system, installation of benches, mulch planting areas, the upgrading of light fixtures, and installation of a security system.
The park, which has opened and closed about four times since opening in 1976, was renovated at a cost of less than $25,000 due to a creative, public-private collaboration that included significant in-house labor and volunteer work and contributions, said Patrick J. Sullivan, the city’s director of parks, buildings and recreation management.
The park was closed several years ago by the Springfield Finance Control Board when renovations were estimated at $550,000.
This year, Northern Tree Service donated work beyond its contract for landscaping, while there was significant work and services provided by city park crews, the Springfield Business Improvement District, the Sheriff’s Department, and MassMutual Financial Group.
Downtown businessman Evan C. Plotkin of Samuel D. Plotkin and Associates, and Jerry Torres, a resident of the adjacent Hampden House apartments, were among visitors praising the improvements, Torres said the city did “a good job. Everybody likes it.”
“It’s a spectacular little park,” Plotkin said.
Meanwhile, a study will be conducted to evaluate repairs needed to an elevator that connects to the top level of the park, Sullivan said.
Park Commission Chairman John Maloney said the restoration of the park and waterfall “is another example of the community becoming involved with the park systemn in efforts to preserve Springfield’s open space.”
Following the press conference, Sarno responded to questions regarding if there is interest in bringing a professional baseball team to Springfield, and said he has received “inquiries.” It would be premature, however, to comment on any specifics, he said.
“I don’t want to give false hope,” Sarno said. “Springfield could be a good baseball town. It is more than a fishing expedition.”
Ten years ago, a proposal to build a $21.3 million minor league baseball stadium at the Northgate Plaza failed after a Superior Court judge ruled that the city improperly took the plaza site by eminent domain.
Others praising the park restoration included City Councilors Clodovaldo Concepcion and James Allen.