Completion of the city’s work to revamp Patricia T. Russell Park on Carpenter Street, originally slated to wrap up this fall, has been delayed until spring 2023, the city’s public works department announced in an email Monday.
With winter on the horizon, the city’s contractor, Peabody, Mass.-based Sumco Eco-Contracting, will halt construction on Dec. 23 before resuming in March, according to the project’s website. Supply chain delays have hindered the delivery for new playground equipment to the new year, the notice from the city states.
The remaining work — which is scheduled to be completed in May, according to the project website — includes installing playground equipment, concrete sidewalks and plazas, pavement work, invasive species removal along Beaver Brook and the placement of benches, picnic tables and trash cans.
Prior to the current project, the park hadn’t seen significant updates in years, and consisted of an open field and a swing set built in the 1980s.
The renovations were originally slated to begin last July, but the design and permitting process, and federal grant funding for the project, took longer than expected, City Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Andy Bohannon told The Sentinel at the time.
The long-planned renovations for the park began in June and were previously scheduled to finish up this month, Bohannon said in an email to The Sentinel on Tuesday.
Bohannon said the project, which also includes plans for a new athletic field, a pavilion/picnic shelter and a connection to the nearby Cheshire Rail Trail, carries a total cost of about $3.1 million.
Last fall, the city received $400,400 in federal funds, with the remaining costs to be covered by Keene through a combination of bonds and money reallocated from other projects that came in under budget, according to the minutes of a May 12 City Council committee meeting, and funds the council earmarked for the project through the Capital Improvement Program.
Bohannon added Tuesday that the city is hoping to receive an additional $400,000 in grant funding to further offset the cost. The city submitted an application for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, established by Congress in 1964, earlier this month and will know the result of its request in early February, he said.
The city purchased the 5-acre park from the Keene School District in 2013. Then known as Carpenter Field, it was renamed in 2018 in honor of the city’s only female mayor, who died two years earlier. After procuring the property, the parks and rec department worked with the Conway School for Landscape Design to create a plan for the development of the public space.
The park will be closed until construction is completed in the spring, the notice states. So far, the contractor has completed work on storm water retention areas, fencing, bleachers, plantings, all underground utilities and the playing field, Bohannon said. The field, however, won’t open until next fall to allow for greater root strength.