Supervisors to weigh in on parks plan

NORWICH – Although plans are yet finalized, next month county supervisors will likely decide the fate of a $560,000 proposal to improve two of downtown Norwich’s most-used parks.

“Friends of the Park,” an all-volunteer offshoot of the City of Norwich Business Improvement District, wants to put in curving sidewalks, lighting, and electrical systems in East and West Side parks, both owned by Chenango County.

Most of the work would take place in the East Park, where they’re looking to add a handicap accessible bathroom, enclosed concert stage and sound system sometime in 2009. All upgrades would follow a “historical” style, organizers say, making the parks look as they did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The majority of the project’s costs, $400,000, will be sought through private donations, said Friends of the Park Chairman Eric Larsen. The plans have been in development since 2002.

The investments are necessary, Friends of the Park representatives say, if the county seat wants to expand as a quality-of-life destination and continue growing its festivals, farmer’s markets and concert events.

“We have to rely on what’s left. What’s that? Great festivals and events. We don’t have industry to bring people here anymore,” said Pegi LoPresti, director of the Norwich BID. “We’re lucky to have the parks downtown that we do ... If we want these parks to continue to be utilized, they are in need of some improvements.”

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