The consultants hired to come up with a plan for developing the former Chapman Farm property have begun surveying the public for ideas.
On Monday night, Cheri Ruane, a senior executive with Weston & Sampson, and Ryan Chmielewski, a project manager with the firm, held the second of two public sessions at the Cheshire Public Library.
The 10-acre former farm was purchased by the town three years ago. It is located just south of the Bartlem Recreation Area, across from Cheshire High School, on South Main Street (Route 10).
“We don't have any pre-conceived ideas. We're truly at the information gathering stages,” Ruane said.
After gathering information, including resident feedback, the firm will make a presentation. A final report should be given to the town in February or March.
Consultants will also look at recreational facilities the town already has in place, and assess which fields and parks are more utilized.
Ruane said the final report will include a preferred plan for the former farm and information regarding all the town’s recreational lands and facilities.
The town’s five-year capital budget currently has $2 million set aside for developing the former Chapman property, which has been renamed Bartlem Park South.
The town paid $3 million for the site. Roughly $300,000 was used for environmental cleanup.
Ruane said the Bartlem Park South Master Plan project would be developed with input from a steering committee, whose members would include representatives from a cross-section of the town.
An online survey by Weston & Sampson has netted roughly 1,200 responses.
The majority of respondents, 57 percent, were between 35 and 44 years old. Baby boomers represented about 22 percent of respondents. Youth represented less than 1 percent of respondents.
“It’s the kids who need the park most,” Ruane said. “We really haven’t heard from them.”
The survey asked respondents to indicate how they typically use public recreational areas. Playgrounds, festivals, summer concerns and pool use were among the popular responses.
Survey takers, when asked what they wanted most, most frequently responded they sought permanent restrooms at public parks and fields. Another frequent response was a call for more picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles.
Ruane said the firm will not present a proposed cost for improving the town’s existing fields, but its overall report will identify underutilized and under-maintained facilities.
Town Council member Sylvia Nichols, who attended Monday night’s session, said she thinks it is in the town's interest to take advantage of all the information the firm is gathering.
“We’re in charge of funding things like this. It’s important to have a large plan,” Nichols said. “Realistically, this is a project that is going to take several years ... It’s really important that we marry this with the school modernization plan that we’re working on ... It’s really important, in my opinion as a council person, to make sure these projects are done thoughtfully together.”