Board to review plans for Windsor dog park and skatepark

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 01-02-2024 7:06 AM

WINDSOR — Railyard Recreation, a nonprofit started several months ago, will present plans to the Development Review Board Tuesday for construction of recreational facilities on vacant town property off Depot Street.

The plans include a dog park at the northern edge of the nearly 3-acre parcel and a skatepark, east of the railroad tracks in Windsor. The proposed dog park is a triangular shape and would be bordered by the tracks to the west and the fence separating it from the Windsor Technology Park.

Terry McDonnell, a member of the Railyard Recreation, said last week he and several others got together in May and proposed the idea to the town.

“It was felt that this is a good use of the property,” said McDonnell, president of Great Bear Realty in Norwich and owner of the Artisans Park on Route 5 in Windsor. “I think this will be a great project for the town.”

The property is in the floodplain, which limits its redevelopment potential.

The park will be for all ages and its proximity to downtown will make it accessible to more people including kids who can ride their bikes to the park, McDonnell said.

The property is in the village mixed-use district and the proposal is a permitted conditional use under town zoning ordinances.

McDonnell estimates the cost to develop the site for recreation will be about $900,000, most of which will be needed for the planned 100-by-100-foot skate park. The proposed dog park is 21,000 square feet or about a half acre.

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On the south side of Depot Street, plans include a shaded picnic area with seating and an area that could be used for lawn games such as badminton or volleyball. The Exchange, a seasonal performance venue, also is on the parcel. Landscaping with tree plantings and a gravel path running the length of the property are part of the plan along with parking.

The property is a brownfield site, which is a federal designation of contaminated property. Funding for remediation has been secured through the Mt. Ascutney Regional Planning Commission.

The commission has committed to supporting cleanup for the project and they are in the process of developing a “correction action plan” but have not determined the cost, Tom Kennedy, executive director of the MARPC, said Friday.

The group has have about $100,000 committed to the project and he is hopeful a couple of large grant requests will raise most of what is still needed, McDonnell said.

“I am hoping for construction in 2024,” he said.

Also Tuesday, the board will consider a request by the owners of 161 Main St., to allow demolition of the multi-unit structure. In a letter to the board, the owners said the building has been deemed unsafe by the town and needs to be demolished. The letter states the back half has collapsed to the basement, there are holes in the roof, black mold throughout and the rot in the framing has destablized the building’s structural integrity, leaving no part salvageable.

The request to allow demolition further states a plan for new housing construction will be submitted later to the town.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.