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Emery Park subcommittee mulls over recreation area’s future

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KENT—The Park and Recreation Commission’s Emery Park Subcommittee organized last week and set goals for an upgrade of the park as a town recreation site.

A Park and Recreation subcommittee has started work on assessing the future uses of Emery Park. Photo by Kathryn Boughton

The park has a pool—closed since before Covid—hiking trails, a playground and picnic tables. That it is in need of an upgrade was evidenced by a Park and Rec survey that reflected widespread public dissatisfaction.

“There is no set direction for Emery Park,” observed John Grant, chairman of the subcommittee. 

Melissa Cherniske, a member of the Kent Land Trust, said she uses Kent trails frequently and that the Emery Park trail needs more stewardship. She said she has knowledge of protected land in Kent and added that she can reach out to “my already trained volunteers at the land trust” for assistance in clearing it.

Lisa Wolak, a hiker, noted that the trail is quite steep and suffers from excessive runoff, but suggested that there might be ways to improve those issues. “The trail still has a lot of runoff but we could use rock diversions to help that,” she said.

Landscape architect Miranda Lovato, who is also an alternate with the Park and Recreation Commission, asked whether the vision for the park is as an active area with a pool, playground and the like, or whether it might be used for passive recreation. 

Lynn Harrington saw it as a detriment to lose the pool. A public swimming pool was high on the list of amenities that Kent townspeople said they wanted during last fall’s political campaigns.

“People used to complain about snakes, turtles and frogs getting in the pool, but we can put in put better filters and fencing,” she said. 

She said staff should be encouraged not to react negatively to wildlife around the pool. “Maybe if there is snapping turtle, we would have to do something, but no poisonous snake is going in the water there and if there is a frog, perhaps they can use it as a science lesson instead of pulling all the kids away.”

“I like the idea of the park as a natural setting,” Wolak said. “We’ve talked about the pool and how it is spring fed and how we could do more with that.”

Cherniske recalled fondly “mommy time” spent at the pool where she met other families. The pool with its natural grade “was so great for little people to get their toes wet,” she said. 

Cherniske envisions a pavilion on the site, predicting that people would go there for barbecues and picnics. She said creating vehicular access from the parking lot to the pool area would make it more handicap accessible.

Park and Recreation director Matt Busse shared the good news that drainage problem off Route 341 originates from state property and that the town will not be responsible for correcting the problem. He also suggested that assistance with a obtaining engineering services might be facilitated through the Northwest Hills Council of Governments.

The group agreed that it would meet Friday, May 10, at the park. Grant said the building there can be cleaned out to make an onsite workspace for the group.

Cherniske remarked that the park was “really a used place. It would be great to get it back to pre-Covid, so people can experience it and we can make decision for what is next for Kent.”

Park and Rec Chairman Rufus P. de Rham, said that he does not see Camp Kent returning to Emery Park because of the number of activities available to the youngsters at Club Getaway. The town pays a per camper fee for services at the resort.

“I don’t see us going back to Emery because we would lose so many things the kids can do,” he said. “We can bring the pool back, but it may not be the way it was. We may want it more natural.”

“There’s more with the property that can happen,” agreed Cherniske. “There was not a lot of meat to the camp when it was there, but there is work we can do with the property with that in mind.”

Kathryn Boughton
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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Bruce Adams

    May 9, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    While I applaud the enthusiasm of the Committee, I do not share their thoughts on the future of the park as a swimming facility. It had its day but times have changed. It would cost a small fortune to bring back the “ceement pond”and money would be better spent on a real pool closer to town.

    • Avatar

      Elyse

      May 10, 2024 at 10:53 am

      I second a “real” pool in Kent!

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