While not as front-and-center in Cheshire as Bartlem Park located directly off of Route 10, Mixville Park is itself a charming recreation area that attracts scores of residents and out-of-towners every year.
Now, Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak is looking to spruce up the site even more.
At a recent meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Gawlak unveiled his plans to highlight the area’s unique features while dedicating a portion of the land to a popular activity.
“I have a lot of ideas for what can be done over at Mixville, given we allocate the appropriate time and resources into what needs to be fixed,” Gawlak said. “I see so much potential in it.”
“We will be addressing the gatehouse and updating it to have electricity,” he continued. “In doing so, parking passes can be purchased right there. … Also, I think … Mixville would be a great park for disc golf. Next to pickleball, disc golf is one of the fastest growing sports, and I think MIxville could benefit from a course like that.”
Gawlak went on to explain that, given Mixville’s unique terrain, the course could easily become 5-star-rated, potentially attracting visitors from all over the state.
“Mixville has the beach area, the water, hills, forest. It’s perfect for a course like this,” he said. “… If we do it right, Mixville could be a highly-rated course and really get a lot of attention from people across the east coast.”
Disc golf, which is similar to Ultimate Frisbee, is a “flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target, using similar techniques and rules as golf” according to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). Gawlak believes creating the course would not come at a big cost for the town.
“The posts that you throw the Frisbees at are about $12,000, but that would really be the only thing that would cost a lot,” he explained. “I also think that we could be generating some revenue with this due to the parking passes that people would need to buy.”
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Fiona Pearson agreed with Gawlak about the potential of Mixville, but expressed her worry about the logistics and funding of any additional work that might be required.
“What needs to be done at Mixville sort of exceeds this Commission’s expertise here,” she began. “I loved what we were able to do with the Bartlem Park South project. We should get the community involved and see what they think should be done.”
Gawlak agreed to reach out to local consulting firms that might be interested in helping the Commission work on the park, but cautioned that the Parks Department does not currently have much wiggle room when it comes to the budget.
“Do you know if we could charge a fee for utilizing any sort of disc golf course?” asked Chairman Patrick Duffy.
“Some of the private courses charge a small fee, but courses located inside town parks are usually free,” answered Gawlak.
The Commissioners also discussed the possibility of making Mixville accessible during the winter, in order to allow residents use of the large sledding hill and frozen pond.
“In a lot of discussions with different Town officials, I expressed the need for Mixville to be open during the winter,” explained Commissioner Steve Trifone. “We might even be able to use the area for the Schena (ice skating) rink as well.”
For the past two years, Cheshire has not been able to put up the Greg Schena Memorial Ice Skating Rink due to unseasonably warm weather and, this year, concerns over COVID-19, but putting the rink at Mixville might offer a solution.
“Now that I think about it, each year there is a natural depression in the center of the park that water gathers and freezes over already,” Gawlak said. “It might be a good spot for something like that.”
No decisions were made regarding the potential new location for the rink, but all Commissioners agreed with the idea of opening Mixville Park for further access during the winter months.