New park on old Cricket Field to be done by November

New park on old Cricket Field to be done by November

JOHNSTON - A new park under construction on the border of Graniteville and Greystone will tie neighborhoods together and transform the area into a recreational hotspot, say those working on the project.

The multi-use park, located on the southern shore of the Greystone Mill Pond near where Johnston, Smithfield and North Providence meet, is being built on Cricket Field, an old-time facility where cricket, and later baseball and softball, were played.

Tom Poirier, a project foreman with Hugo Key and Son, of Newport, told The Breeze that construction of new brick walkways throughout the park, areas for parking, a gazebo, boardwalk and river overlook are scheduled to be done by Nov. 23. Bike racks will also be installed.

The Greystone Social Club, located on the North Providence side of the Woonasquatucket River across from the park, was originally formed as a social club for English mill workers. Workers in the early 1900s formed the Benn's Mohairs, a cricket team that played against teams from other mills.

The modern park that is replacing Cricket Field is sandwiched between the Greystone Lofts of North Providence and residential neighborhoods of Johnston. As with Cricket Field, Johnston officials have said that town employees will maintain the park.

Landscaping of the park, located off the Angell Street/Greystone Avenue connector between Route 44 in Johnston and Waterman Avenue in North Providence, will happen next spring, he said.

The park is being developed through a partnership between the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. It will cost about $1.2 million, paid for through federal highway funds previously approved for recreational projects and the Northwest Bike Path, according to an Aug. 28 story in The Johnston Sun Rise. The design for the project was funded nearly a decade ago by the Gregson Foundation and Metals Recycling.

The Northwest Bike Path currently ends at Lyman Avenue in Johnston, but state officials have indicated that they would one day like to extend the path to Cricket Field. According to an engineer from the Department of Transportation, speaking to the Sun Rise, Cricket Field is a "logical point" for a future bike path.

Though some neighbors have expressed misgivings about a busy park being so close to their homes, said Poirier, there is no doubt that the new facility is "a big improvement" over what was here before. Visitors will be most impressed by the overlook area and boardwalk on the water, said Poirier. A planned launching spot for kayaks and canoes should also be a hit.

Cricket Field was previously talked about as a possible site for a new dog park in Johnston, but town officials eventually abandoned the idea and decided to build the dog park at Woodlake Park instead. The old Cricket Field was used by local residents as a place to walk their dogs, and Poirier said many have told him they plan to continue using it in the same way.

In the Sun Rise story, Alicia Lehrer, executive director of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, called the new park "a gateway between Johnston and North Providence," a park that will promote appreciation of the natural environment and healthy living along the river.

Members of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, including Lehrer and Lisa Aurecchia, project manager at the WRWC, have had a big hand in the planning for the park.