Community parks — a new name and a new future

 A sign for the newly renamed Village Community Park — formerly Williston Community Park — was installed in Williston Village on Tuesday. OBSERVER PHOTO BY JASON STARR 


Observer staff 

Allen Brook Park is taking its first steps from a blank slate of athletic fields next to Williston’s elementary school toward what could be the community center/ pool/recreation center that many residents have long had on their wish lists. 

The first of two public input sessions on a new park master plan was held Wednesday evening at the park. The second is tentatively set for Nov. 10. The town has hired a consultant to sketch plans for the roughly 20 town-owned acres behind the Williston Fire Station and next to Allen Brook School, and present them for selectboard approval by the end of the year. 

“This project will allow the Town of Williston to develop a (plan) that will maximize the use of the land, create areas that are safe, green and are used efficiently, and create a more complete community park for all,” the request for consultant proposals for the project states. 

In August, members of the Recreation and Parks Committee gave the consultant — Burlington-based landscape designer SE Group — initial ideas of what the community would like to see built and created at the park. A community center with a gymnasium, fitness rooms, indoor turf field and a pool is the most ambitious item to come out of the Aug. 19 meeting. 

But committee chair Bob Metz cautioned that the master planning process is primarily focused on outdoor space at the park; creating detailed plans for an indoor community center is beyond the scope of the study. 

“We are taking advantage of this opportunity to see if it is viable to put (a community center) here, and that would at least give us a starting point,” Metz said. “If there is a way to do it, we could then build off of that with an actual indoor facility study. 

“The SE Group is really great with the outdoor aspect, but they are not indoor recreation facility designers,” he added. 

Other possibilities the committee discussed for the park are baseball and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, a walking path, a natural area/edible garden and outdoor classroom, event pavilion and play structures. 

The fate of the current athletic fields, which comprise 4 acres, is up for discussion, Recreation and Parks Director Todd Goodwin said. Currently the fields serve the town’s soccer and lacrosse teams. 

Meanwhile, the town’s current recreation hub — Williston Community Park — was renamed this week. Signs were placed Tuesday to reflect the new name: Village Community Park. The Recreation and Parks Committee unanimously approved the name change in September. Goodwin notes that the name gives the park a better sense of place than its more general former name. 

“Village Community Park gives it its own identity in the town of Williston,” he said. 

The town’s other two community parks — Brennan Park and Rossignol Park — are also receiving new entrance signs this week. 

At Village Community Park, work will begin this month to replace the boardwalk that connects the park with the Allen Brook Nature Trail. The connection will be closed for about two months, according to Williston Conservation Planner Melinda Scott.