Have a say in Kennedy Park construction

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Lewiston public works crews were in Kennedy Park this week, closing off the basketball courts and preparing the Park and Spruce streets corner for a new skateboard park.

The city, aware that those courts are heavily used on any given night, is creating a temporary basketball court on the Pine Street side of the bath house, just beyond the park’s third basketball court.

The work to create this temporary court is expected to take just a couple of days and, when finished, will be seriously inadequate to satisfy the crowds that now gather to play ball in the park. It will take the better part of the summer before two new permanent basketball courts are finished and the city has asked that players shoot hoops at the courts in Potvin Park (across from the Franco-American Heritage Center) and behind Longley School off Birch Street.

That means, as we creep into summer and windows are open, neighbors around those courts are likely to hear increased noise. We ask them to be patient. The city has promised to finish the work in the park as quickly as possible, but it will take time.

The park project, which will include a new bathroom house to be constructed in the fall and a large water fountain for children to play in, should not interfere with the afternoon soccer games that take place on the Park Street side of the park or obstruct most of the pathways that cut across the park.

The public has an opportunity this Wednesday to attend a public hearing to comment on the plans for the park, including the 12,000-square-foot skate park – with its concrete bowl with ramps, jumps and street-like obstacles for boarders and inline skaters. That meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall.

The plans for the park are available at City Hall now for anyone who wants to see how it might look, and the city is accepting written comments from anyone unable to attend the public hearing.

We support the new skate park and believe the renovation of that end of Kennedy Park will be inviting when finished. However, we suggest the city re-think it’s plan to construct only two permanent basketball courts.

There have been three courts there, all heavily used. The courts can get so crowded it’s tough to see how the games are being organized. Trying to squeeze that amount of activity into two courts is short-changing the ball players and the popularity of this gathering place.

The city should, at the very least, create three permanent courts in the park as part of this $3 million project. Four would be better, and would probably look better constructed in a block, but three courts should be the minimum.

Kennedy Park is the public’s park. You have a chance, now, to have a say in the finished project. We urge the public to speak up before the city gets too deep into construction.

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