The park is situated to the right of Meadow Road, exit 34 off I-91. It lays in a reclusive area that is flanked on one side by an environmental company and a residential home, and bordered on the other side by the railway tracks. Visible on the far side facing Hartford is the now defunct North Meadow Landfill, that borders Interstate I-91.
On this vast open space is a distressed home that Riverfront Recapture plans to preserve and reposition to another location. The other two brick structures will, no doubt, be demolished. Over the years, the field has undergone many uses such as a tobacco field, farm land, and the soil marketed commercially as top soil. Presently, the vegetation is choked by an invasive tree, which will be uprooted and replaced with a tree nursery.
Proposed special features:
A Cove: Riverfront Recapture plans to convert the partially dug-out area into a cove, which is a small sheltered bay that could provide activities for boats, fishing, and other river activities. It is situated on a tributary that leads into the main river.
Wildlife Sanctuary: Wildlife is also very prevalent which is a good indication of water quality. The area is home to beavers, coyotes, an array of fish, as well as various birds, from robins to eagles that nest in the surrounding trees.
Wetland Area: The preservation of the wetland area is crucial, as it acts as a natural sponge when heavy rainfall occurs to reduce the erosion of land. It also provides high plant diversity and ecosystem services, including its ability to act as a wildlife habitat as well as to flush out ground pollutants.
Keeping logistical limitations in mind and based on our survey sample, here are our recommendations for the park:
- There was a strong desire from responders for scenic overlook which could be achieved by attractive landscaping, as well as art and sculptures. To beautify the space we would recommend some kind of community art collaboration, something like sculptures or murals that can withstand a floodplain.
For sculptures, participants suggested people who have made significant contribution to the community, such as Saxophonist, Jackie McLean founder of Artists’ Collective, as well as a sculpture depicting tobacco picking, endemic to the area.
- Regarding safety issues, having adequate lighting came out on top followed by safety patrol. This encompasses personal safety as well as vehicles.
- There was a strong response for bathrooms from our participants as well, which would most likely be portable toilets due to the fact that the park is located in a flood zone. However, our partners stated that they could potentially get cleaner trailer style portable toilets, or perhaps with the right sewage systems and engineering, they could work on creating structured bathrooms. However, Riverfront stated that a permanent structure would be possible, should they choose to relocate their office.
- Additionally, many community members seem to go to parks with their families and children, so it seems necessary to provide some sort of playscape. Perhaps it could be a playground that blends into the nature scene. Since there are beavers in the area, perhaps there is a giant beaver dam for kids to play in and around. Or perhaps there could be some sort of water playscape to tie in with the river landscape.
- We also recommend a sort of outreach to the Hartford area schools to enhance their science programs, and take advantage the wetland habitat, similar to programs offered by Northwest Park for Windsor area schools.
- Of the top three priorities in a park, pavilion/gazebos and community gardens also scored 38%. Although our sample size was small, we believe that a larger sample size would make community gardens a front runner. The garden would also support the work of Hartford Healthy Hub, supplying fresh produce to the NHPZ residents.
Coupled with our recommendations, this park would increase recreational space and give the residents a variety of choices for healthy living.