WEST SWANZEY — Local officials are eyeing a slate of changes at the riverfront park on Main Street, including adding a small basketball court and covered pavilion, and improving access to the water.
Swanzey has made minor changes to the park — a former commercial site next to the Denman Thompson covered bridge — since acquiring the property in 2013, according to Matthew Bachler, the town’s director of planning and economic development. The new upgrades, he said, would help bring to fruition a vision for West Swanzey AA Memorial Park as a community and recreational space.
“This is kind of taking the next step and making some additional improvements,” he said.
Swanzey cleared the 0.7-acre property shortly after acquiring it from the West Swanzey Athletic Association, razing an old building that organization owned. Providing better access to the Ashuelot River was among the earliest plans for the park, The Sentinel reported at the time.
As part of the latest proposal, the town would replace a set of granite stairs to the river with stone slabs, offering easier entry for canoers and kayakers. Those plans also include adding the new basketball court in the park’s northwest corner and building a 400-square-foot pavilion, which Bachler said would replace a gazebo there. The parking lot would be reconfigured, too.
Swanzey’s selectboard worked with residents and the Ashuelot River Local Advisory Committee, which protects the Monadnock Region waterway, to craft the proposed changes, Bachler said.
“They kind of set a general vision and goals for what they wanted to see,” he said. “At the staff level, we further refined those.”
Swanzey officials estimate the project — which still needs final approval from planning officials and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services — would cost close to $100,000, according to Bachler. The town has been awarded a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to cover half of that sum, he said.
If approved, work on the park would likely occur in the late summer or early fall this year, Bachler said, depending on the Ashuelot’s water level.
A public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6 p.m. today (Thursday) before the planning board. That meeting will be held at Whitcomb Hall and broadcast live, with access via Zoom (Meeting ID: 235 370 4380) or by phone (929-205-6099).