NORWICH – When the Norwich Business Improvement District and the community organization Friends of the Park first proposed renovating East and West Parks in downtown Norwich, the project came with a price tag of $1million. Now, as the group pursues fundraising to get the project off the ground, they’ve been able to bring the cost down to around $400,000 without cutting the improvements and upgrades.
The parks project was first discussed in 2002 when the BID contracted with Saratoga Associates to prepare a master plan for the parks. The plan was placed on hold for some time, until the Friends of the Park group formed in 2004. “Originally, the parks project was included as part of the Streetscape project,” said Friends of the Park Committee Member Eric Larsen, explaining that the county found issues with the original design and it was removed from Streetscape.
After several years of gaining input and feed back from the groups who utilize the park, the final plans for the park project have been made. The project will include electrical infrastructure upgrades, the replacement of two Civil War cannons in West Park, new sidewalks, the replacement of overgrown shrubs, water access to both parks, the relocation of two monuments, the reconstruction of the East Park pavilion, which will be placed at ground level at the front center of East Park, the construction of a permanent stage in East Park, the addition of decorative historic light posts and benches (similar to those in place downtown) increased security, burying overhead wires and making both parks fully handicapped accessible.