SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 20, 2013

Makeover on tap at Hamilton park

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — Many people might not know about the town-owned park off Bay Road with a scenic view of Cutler Pond.

The Manasseh Cutler Park, across from the post office, is marked with a sign, bench and picnic table near the street. But town officials are now hoping to revamp the park with the help of community support.

“It is a very nice area,” said former town Planning Coordinator Marcie Ricker, who has been hired as a landscape consultant. “If you are walking down Bay Road, it is a nice place to stop for a moment, but most people don’t realize they can walk further into the park and see how beautiful it is.”

Ricker’s plan calls for creating a stroll garden with grass and stone walkways in the shape of an infinity symbol. The park will pay tribute to Manasseh Cutler’s local roots as a minister and doctor. After the Revolutionary War, Cutler, born in 1742, bought a vast amount of land in Ohio but returned to Hamilton toward the end of his life.

The infinity symbol will represent Cutler’s journey west and then back to town, Ricker said. The plans will match the landscaping design of Town Hall and cemetery.

Some overgrown bushes and trees will be cleared to create a vista overlooking the pond. There will be no direct access to the pond, according to officials.

There are also plans for a butterfly garden, a statue of Cutler and bench sponsorships, Ricker said.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo said the town isn’t looking for public funds but making it a community project with fundraising and donation efforts. The project will be completed in various phases, he said.

“If we had to plant all that and do it all at once, that would be a massive undertaking,” Lombardo said. “The next steps for us are to get as much feedback as possible, but then quickly come up with a strategy on what we can do in any given year.”

Selectmen Chairman David Neill said people have complained about the park for many years, and he’s glad something is being done.

“The best I was able to do was to put a picnic table on it,” he joked.

Neill said the plan will enhance the neighborhood and will make the park a contemplative place to enjoy a good view and conversation.

“This is probably the best idea I’ve heard for that property,” Neill said. “A strolling garden is a marvelous idea. Not just because it is a thing of beauty, but I also think it fits in with the neighborhood well.”

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.