Town plans bigger park
Committee: Tear down the old building
MILFORD – A committee charged with examining the future of Keyes Memorial Park has recommended the town eventually tear down the industrial building at 127 Elm St. and build a community recreation center.
The committee of residents and town employees was charged with developing short- and long-term recommendations for Keyes and the town-owned property to the west.
Milford bought the 6 acres a few years ago to give access to Keyes during the Fletcher Paint Superfund cleanup and to give the town more recreation space.
The committee recommends fully integrating the property into the park. A major question is what to do with the 33,000-square-foot building, the former Permattach Diamond Tool Corp. facility.
The steel structure is essentially sound, but its roof, HVAC, electric and plumbing need replacement. Renovation costs are estimated to be $2.85 million. Demolition and new construction costs would be about $3.8 million, according to the report.
"Essentially, the building would have to be gutted," Community Development Director Lincoln Daley said.
It also would need mold abatement and replacement of the windows and doors.
In a recent survey that asked Milford residents to name their top priorities for Keyes, fixing and maintaining the current park was the first choice. The second choice was creating a path for walking, biking and cross-country skiing around the perimeter. Survey respondents also asked for more shaded areas, more public restrooms and more parking.
The committee came up with a 10-year master plan for an integrated park.
Phase one includes a handicap-accessible path around the park, a relocated ballfield and a new multipurpose field.
Phase two, estimated to take two to five years, includes building a recreation center that has space for future expansion and demolishing the big building at 127 Elm St.
A new street hockey/ basketball court, a multipurpose field and more parking are also in phase two, as well as removal of the old basketball court to create a large picnic area.
Phase three, in eight to 10 years, includes building a bridge to the North River Road sports fields.
The community recreation center would centralize recreation planning and activities, and help relieve downtown congestion, according to the plan.
What to do about the building "was the elephant on the table," Janet Langdell, a committee member and Planning Board vice chairwoman, told selectmen on Nov. 14.
She also said one park feature that keeps coming up is a pedestrian bridge over the Souhegan River connecting Keyes to the North River Road sports fields.
"Low-hanging fruit," she said would be the path around the park and a gravel road connecting the parking lots at Keyes to the new parking lot at 127 Elm.
The committee is asking selectmen for a ballot item in March for a capital reserve fund for Keyes improvements.
Committee members said they considered retrofitting the old building to lease to the state for a Department of Motor Vehicles building, but it would be an expensive renovation for a relatively short-term use.
The report is on the town website.