, Salem, MA

May 23, 2013

Peabody to cut ribbon on new downtown park

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — This city will have a little more elbow room come tomorrow with the opening of the East End Veterans Memorial Park on Walnut Street. Mayor Ted Bettencourt is expected to officiate at the dedication.

It’s a new park, explains Karen Sawyer, director of Community Development, built on the site of an old tannery that burned down. It will be named in honor of the city’s veterans, and members of the Peabody Veterans Council will participate in the ribbon-cutting.

“The veterans will bring their flags,” said Veterans Agent Chris Tighe. Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Robert Dunne, the husband of School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne, is scheduled to speak.

The 1.3-acre park includes a walking loop and, rather than conventional playground equipment, “There are boulders placed in such a way that children can play on them,” Sawyer said.

Also included is a wooden platform and a stage. “We could even have concerts,” said Sawyer. “And picnics on the grass.”

It was designed by the Horsley Witten Group of Sandwich and constructed by T Ford Company of Georgetown. As a bonus for the city, its close proximity to the Peabody Institute Library will provide an outdoor venue for library events, something that’s been lacking up to now.

Thus far the project has cost $1 million of an available $1.5 million, according to city planner Brendan Callahan. The money comes from multiple state, federal and local sources, including two funds designed for rehabilitating and utilizing “brown fields,” areas previously deemed to include toxic matter.

The city’s share, thus far, has been limited to roughly $160,000, according to Callahan.

Landscaping was designed with a Peabody fact of life in mind — city officials expect the park to flood from time to time. Thus, said Sawyer, landscapers chose plants better able to survive the occasional inundation. Black locust lumber, said to have a usable life of up to 50 years without chemicals, is used for the decking. And specially designed porous pavement was used to minimize the impact of any flooding, as it allows more water to be absorbed through the pavement and into the soil.

“The park is designed for the downtown community,” said Callahan. It’s located only a few blocks from Peabody Square. “Kids can play on the boulders. There is a large plaza with benches and game tables. ... The idea was to have a place for creative play.”