Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 7/12 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed moving/asphalting the BMX pump track at Macomber Park, and adding an anchor to the décor at Cooke Park.
The board met with Michael Rotondo, of the BMX pump track at Macomber Park. BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton said he has heard about Mr. Rotondo’s big plans.
Mr. Rotondo said he is looking to move the BMX bike track to a different location in the park where ground is higher to prevent it from flooding when it rains. They are also looking to pave the pump track as well.
Mr. Rotondo explained that they will start fresh with a new track, level it out, restore everything back to grass, and then put the new track on higher ground at the park and then asphalt the new track.
Mr. Rotondo said this track would be more permanent, easier to maintain, and allow bikers to use it all year round.
Mr. Wotton said where the track is now it is a very damp area and constantly gets flooded. Mr. Wotton said it is a great idea to move it to higher ground.
Mr. Wotton said that he loves to see the pump track getting so much use. He recently spoke with some of the neighbors who originally opposed the pump track when it was built a few years ago, and Mr. Wotton said the neighbors love the track now and think that Mr. Rotondo has done a great job with it.
BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said he requested some money from the town to hopefully help out with the paving of the track. Mr. Furtado said if the BPW gets the money they have requested they will definitely help Mr. Rotondo with some of the cost.
Board member Cameron Durant said he supports the pump track 100%.
Vice-Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said that Macomber Park is one of the most underutilized areas in town and he is so glad the pump track is bringing more residents in to use the park.
Mr. Wotton said he has loved the community involvement and the fundraising that has gone into the track.
The board voted unanimously to allow Mr. Rotondo to relocate the BMX pump track, as well as pave it.
In another matter the board met with Joseph Ingoldsby about using money from the Cooke Park gift account to hire a temporary employee to water the flowers.
Mr. Ingoldsby also wanted to thank the neighbors of Cooke Park, other volunteers, and Gary Lavalette for helping plant and maintain the flowers at the park. He also thanked Mr. Lavalette for his donation of seashells.
Mr. Ingoldsby said it has been hard for him to water the flowers by himself so has been paying a college student $15 and hour to do it. It takes about two hours each day.
Mr. Ingoldby asked if they could use the Cooke Park gift account money to pay the student.
The board voted unanimously to hire the student as a temporary employee and pay him out of the gift account.
In a related matter the board discussed the possibility of putting a memorial anchor at Cooke Park. Mr. Furtado explained that an old anchor was found in Fairhaven. Mr. Lavalette, who is a member of the Historical Commission, asked if it could be placed at Cooke Park as a memorial.
Town Resident Karen Vilandry attended the meeting to voice her concerns about the anchor being placed at Cooke Park.
Ms. Vilandry explained that a few years ago research was done at Cooke Park to see if bodies were buried there. She said a scientist came out and did ground penetrating radar at the park in 2017 and said that there could potentially be 60 burial graves at the park.
Mr. Wotton stopped Ms. Vilandry. and told her that there is no need to bring up all the Cooke Park issues from years ago.
Ms. Vilandry then explained that a man name William Wood could possibly be buried there and in Mr. Wood’s Will it says his burial ground should not be defaced in anyway.
Mr. Wotton said no one is disputing that there are burials at Cooke Park, but said they were there to talk about the anchor.
Mr. Wotton said Mr. Lavalette wants to put the anchor in the drainage area.
Ms. Vilandry said she is opposed to the anchor being placed anywhere at the park, and suggested they put it somewhere else, like Fort Phoenix or at the entrance to town near the Seaport.
Mr. Hobson said he did not understand what the big deal was about putting the anchor there.
Ms. Vilandry said it is a problem because the park is a burial ground.
Board member Marcus Ferro said he did not see how putting an anchor there would be defacing the burial ground. The anchor is a memorial itself and was found in that area of town.
Ms. Vilandry said it would not be following the legal Will of William Wood.
Mr. Ferro said that that is a matter of interpretation or practicality.
Mr. Wotton said the anchor is supposed to be a memorial for people lost at sea.
Ms. Vilandry said Mr. Lavalette wanted the anchor to be in memorial of Captain Whitfield.
Mr. Wotton said that that had not been decided and that the assumption was that the anchor was going to be in memorial of anyone lost at sea.
Ms. Vilandry said to put the anchor at Fort Phoenix.
Mr. Wotton said there is already an anchor at Fort Phoenix.
Ms. Vilandry said to put another anchor there.
Mr. Wotton asked why this anchor was any different than all the other memorials at Cooke Park. Mr. Wotton said he saw no issue with it.
“I am so done with this park,” Mr. Wotton said.
Ms. Vilandry said there needs to be respect that the park is a burial ground. She said they would not put that anchor at another cemetery.
Mr. Hobson said he does not understand why Ms. Vilandry and Mr. Lavalette are always against each other, and they have been hearing about Cooke Park issues for 10 years.
Mr. Hobson said he thought the anchor would look beautiful as a memorial.
Resident Doug Brady voiced his thoughts via Zoom, saying they should compromise and satisfy both sides. Mr. Brady suggested putting a plaque at Cooke Park stating what the memorials are sitting on. He also suggested putting up signage stating that it is a burial ground.
Mr. Durant said he agreed that they should put up some signage, and noted they were supposed to put a sign there years ago, but it just never got done.
Mr. Durant suggested they wait before taking a vote to talk to the Historical Commission.
Mr. Hobson said he did not think they should vote on signs when there is nothing about it on the agenda.
Mr. Durant suggested they postpone the topic until next meeting and discuss it with the Historical Commission.
Mr. Wotton said he thought they should just approve the anchor at the park and move on. He said that Ms. Vilandry and the Historical Commission should work together to come up with a memorial plaque to be placed at the park.
Mr. Wotton also said that Ms. Vilandry is very passionate about the park and he could appreciate that.
Mr. Coelho said he agreed with Mr. Hobson that they should not vote or discuss putting a plaque at the park because it was not on the agenda and there might be some residents who would want to speak about it.
“We will table this and go through this rigmarole again,” said Mr. Wotton, adding that he makes a motion to move on because they have better things to do.
The board voted to table the signage and anchor discussion until the next meeting.
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