Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.
SUTTON - As the sun went down last night, the Blackstone River was rushing over the Singing Dam off Blackstone Street.
The strip of land along the river and across the street from the J&G Foods parking lot sat unoccupied at dusk, but plans to turn the land into the town's next park entered a new phase at the Municipal Center, where state highway officials held a public hearing.
The Massachusetts Highway Department, which is overseeing the $300,000 project, held the hearing to gauge public reaction to the park, which would serve as a local recreation hub, officials said last night.
The park, proposed after the town's yearlong tricentennial celebration as a legacy to future generations, is being built with a combination of state and federal grants, and incorporates a canoe and kayak port, access to nearby bike paths and picnic areas.
The park will also serve as a link in the Blackstone River Bikeway, which will eventually connect Worcester and Providence. The bikeway is being developed through the efforts of 15 municipalities and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the departments of transportation in both states.
William DeSantis, a corporate director with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., a design firm working on the Tricentennial Park project, said the park will consist of a parking lot, a paved river overlook, granite block seating areas and a memorial monument that incorporates memorial bricks sold by the Sutton 300th Committee.
Michael Papadopoulos, a project manager for the state Highway Department, said barring any delays, design work should be completed by the end of the summer and construction could begin as early as spring 2008.
State Rep. Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton, said the project has her full support, and urged the state Highway Department to work as quickly as possible to get the park done, calling it a pivotal construction project for the town.
Michael Wood of 1 Chase Road, which is across the river from the park site, voiced concerns about traffic, water drainage, the...