Consistent themes at forum on Diamond Hill Park

Consistent themes at forum on Diamond Hill Park

Robb McCoy, who runs the annual FIT Challenge at Diamond Hill Park, hangs up a list of negatives about the park during a community forum on its future last Thursday, Oct. 3. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

CUMBERLAND – Consistent themes, both positive and negative, emerged during a forum on future improvements to Diamond Hill Park last week, and while the more than 50 people in attendance disagreed on the specifics, no one was claiming the facility is running at its best.

Mayor Jeff Mutter told the crowd in the park’s ski lodge last Thursday, Oct. 3, that he’s not married to any one aspect of his administration's conceptual plan for the park, saying he and other town officials want residents to guide its future.

Representatives for the town say there’s an abundance of enthusiasm and new funding for a park revitalization process they say has largely been stalled for the better part of four decades.

Adding to the thought in the room that real change is on the way, elected leaders announced the acquisition of another $300,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, bringing the total for the park to $600,000 in two years after the same type of grant last year.

Cumberland Rep. Alex Marszalkowski and Sen. Ryan Pearson highlighted the inclusion of the $300,000 in this year’s budget for additional improvements to the park.

“Diamond Hill Park is a treasured asset to the people of Cumberland and the Blackstone Valley and this appropriation of $300,000 included in the budget will ensure that the park remains a beloved part of the community for many future generations to come,” said Marszalkowski in a statement.

“Diamond Hill Park means so much to the residents of Cumberland and the money included in this year’s budget for its revitalization will continue the park’s improvements so that everyone can enjoy and utilize this important space to the community,” said Pearson.

Mutter said again that Diamond Hill Park is a “community gem,” and revitalizing it should be a community project.

The Valley Breeze reported last week on preliminary plans to reconfigure the park, which includes building a new community center to replace the ski lodge, developing a new family play area behind the community center, revamping the pond area, and better defining the various spaces in the park. Officials will now use input from residents to start refining that plan.

The mayor and his team compiled the information provided by those in attendance last Thursday to highlight consistent ideas in three categories: strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

• For strengths, the most common themes among the people at the tables in the park's ski lodge last Thursday were the park’s size, its hiking trails, untapped potential, high use, walkability, open space and athletic fields.

Other strengths included its natural habitat, biking, character, natural beauty, name recognition, shaded areas, history, picnic areas, location, Cumberlandite, and events.

• For weaknesses, the most common themes listed included lack of upkeep and trash barrels, lack of trail maps, poor infrastructure, the pond, underutilized spaces, traffic flow, trails in disrepair and lacking markings, lack of restrooms, and the poor condition of the ski lodge.

Other weaknesses listed included lack of security and staffing, litter, heavy traffic volume from events and lack of oversight for those events, the stage setup, damage from beavers, lack of sitting areas, mosquitoes, and lack of revenue.

• For opportunities, where participants were essentially told to write down their biggest dreams without thinking about cost, the most common ideas were to add restrooms, bring ice skating, install signage and better trail markings, clean and improve the pond, add activities for seniors, develop a comprehensive plan, add tubing and sledding components, improve fields, including possible turf fields, add concession stands, build a welcome center, and add a playground, among others. Other suggestions included activities for all seasons, expanded parking, new landscaping and community activities, dog waste bag holders, a coffee shop, a disc golf course, a youth Ninja Warrior course, improved access to woodlands, basketball courts, and a Zen garden.

In a joint statement, Marszalkowski and Pearson said, “We look forward to continuing to be strong partners to the mayor and the Town Council as the community brings to life a revitalization of the park. As legislators, we will continue to bring resources home as often as we can and partner with RIDEM.

Comments

The town printed several thousand trail maps three years ago and I believe they are available at the Recreation office. They are also available online at the Town website. Navigate to My Cumberland and then to Trails in Cumberland. A smart phone app that will enable you to see your location on the map will be soon available at ExploreRI.org

It's great we are looking at this together, I just hope people can come together to agree on somethings and not argue but it. There are a lot of great options, some seem pretty reasonable, some may not be. Better trail markings to the existing trails or course, seems like a no brainer, other ideas have merit while some may need more thought.