CHESTER – A Request for Proposals (RFP) is set to go out soon for the field-leveling work at the Wason Pond Conservation and Recreation Area. The recreation commission, together with various town boards, the state and engineer Bill Gregsak, have been working over the past few months to get everything in place to begin excavation for the future playing fields this fall.
It’s an effort that has many hands on the wheel, including at times the selectmen, conservation commission, recreation commission, Wason Pond Commission, planning board and the public.
But recreation is leading the project and over the past few months, the commission has been working out the specifics at its meetings.
Recreation chair Ed Karjala said the commission is hoping to open the bid package this week.
After the bid package is reviewed, the RFP will be released, followed by a three-week window to collect bids. The hope is to begin excavation in September.
The physical work is estimated to take about a month. This will include stripping the soil off the land, leveling the property, re-spreading the loam and then seeding it.
The start date of the project has been pushed back a couple of times since the town voted at 2012 Town Meeting to fund the project by matching $45,000 from fundraising done by the Chester Field of Dreams.
Karjala explained that there are a lot of variables that go into the project and getting all of those items in place was taking additional time. But he noted everyone is working together.
The project is years in the making, dating back to when the master plan for the property was drawn up when the site was purchased in 2003.
Karjala noted the town property carries a conservation easement on it. One time-consuming factor has been the redesign of the road entering the property. It was decided earlier this year to redesign the road to free up more space for fields and hopefully make entering and exiting the area safer.
And getting an alteration of terrain permit approval from the state Department of Environmental Services has taken longer than expected Karjala said an important part of the process is to take feedback from the current users of the area to make sure the work is done in a way to accommodate as many of those users as possible.
Everyone wants the work done soon, said Karjala, but it’s also important to consider that the property is going to be used by Chester for many years to come. While there was some concern at a previous selectmen’s meeting about whether the funds for the project could be encumbered because a physical contract was not in hand, since then the matter has been straightened out. Because the recreation commission has already begun dispersing funds for the project, the remaining money can be encumbered.