“Even though some state and federal parks charge for parking, I’m not for it because a lot of high school students and parents with small children use Winnekenni,” the mayor said.
Sullivan’s proposal to improve the park ranges from basic maintenance to more imaginative ideas such as bringing castle-themed paddle boats to the basin or nearby Plug Pond.
Fiorentini said he will include money in a capital spending proposal he is developing for improvements at Winnekenni. He said he might provide money to renovate bathrooms near the tennis courts and at Plug Pond, install benches around the basin pond and paint the tennis court fence.
“I’m not committing specifically to anything at this time,” he said. “But there will be something (in the improvements budget) for Winnekenni.”
Sullivan said the council committee will hold another meeting after the mayor reveals his spending plan. The committee will eventually make recommendations to the full council for improvements at the park, Sullivan said.
Councilor William Macek, chairman of the Public Property and Natural Resources Committee, said officials are also concerned that charging an admission fee to the park could disqualify the city from state grants for improvements there.
“No one wants to turn Winnekenni into some kind of theme park,” Macek said. “Most of the discussion (at last week’s meeting) was about how to do better maintenance and to fix problems caused by lack of maintenance.”
Macek said a lot of the meeting’s discussion focused on maintaining the park’s trails, which have eroded in many places.
“There are places where we need to get machinery in there to smooth and grade them,” he said, noting the trails are heavily used not only by the general public, but by high school athletes. “There are other places where we need to trim back the overgrowth.”