Sidebar Middletown's Plan of Development

CHAPTER 8

PLAN FOR PARKS AND RECREATION

Recreation areas for both young and old are an essential part of any community. They represent areas where individuals and families can recreate together, enjoy and learn about the outdoor environment and pursue physical fitness. They also are areas where citywide events such as baseball games or carnivals can be held. Whether they be active or passive recreation areas, there is not doubt that these areas contribute greatly to the quality of life here in the city.

For this reason the goal of this section of the Plan of Development is as follows:

To provide for the optimal number and type of safe, well maintained, active and passive recreation facilities in areas most suited to service the diverse population.

In an attempt to achieve this goal, the town has defined the following specific objectives and strategies.

  1. Inventory recreation facilities currently available in the city, then compare the existing to the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) standards and recommend the establishment of new facilities.
  2. Provide for safe, well-maintained and managed facilities which are accessible to the handicapped.
  3. Provide for compatible recreational uses within out existing open space areas.
  4. Inform citizens of Middletown of the many recreational opportunities in the city.

Existing Facilities Inventory

Currently the Park and Recreation Department manages 10 passive recreational sites, 11 active recreational sites and 9 sites which are intended for both active and passive pursuits. The first table lists these recreation areas and their acreage. The accompanying Recreation Map displays the location of these facilities. The number of the facility on the map corresponds to its listing in the table.

RECREATION AREAS IN MIDDLETOWN
NAME ACREAGE TYPE
1. Alsop Property 15.2 Passive
2. Butternut Hollow 12.7 Active & Passive
3. Crystal Lake 33.0 Active & Passive
4. Denison Park 3.3 Passive
4. Cucia Park 27.0 Active & Passive
5. Donovan Park 2.1 Active
6. Ferry Street 0.26 Active
7. Hubbard Tract 22.8 Undeveloped
8. Pillarella Field 2.1 Active
9. Hubbard Park 2.95 Active
10. Kennedy Property 50.4 Undeveloped
11. MacCarthy Field 3.5 Active
12. McCutcheon Wildlife Sanctuary 29.74 Passive
14. Marzalek Park 0.41 Active & Passive
15. Newfield Meadows 156.0 Undeveloped
16. Palmer Field 9.3 Active
17. Pameacha Pond Park 21.0 Active & Passive
18. Pat Kidney Field 14.6 Active
21. Pike's Ravine 19.0 Active & Passive
22. Roosevelt Park 3.0 Active
23. Rose Circle Active
24. 12.7 Active & Passive
25. Spear Park 2.2 Passive
26. Traverse Active
27. Veterans Memorial Park 39.0 Active & Passive
28. Union Park 1.3 Passive
29. Washington Green 3.3 Passive
30. John English Falls 4.0 Passive
31. Wilcox Island 16.5 Passive
32. Woodbury Circle 0.25 Active
33. Zoar Pond 24.7 Active & Passive
34. Harbor Park 6.4 Active & Passive
35. Town Farms Park 6.0 Passive

  1. Alsop property is in a flood plan and environmentally sensitive area and therefore it may be difficult to fully utilize this property.
  2. Pameacha Pond Park is water only and the city must acquire land as access. The plan recommends for this area a fishing boardwalk running parallel with Route 17 that connects to Pikes Ravine at the northern end.

The next table makes comparisons of the existing facilities in Middletown with the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) standards for the current population and for the capacity population of 65,000 residents. From this table facility shortcomings become apparent. Based on this analysis and discussions with the Director of Park and Recreation, the city is currently in need of baseball fields, tennis courts and picnic areas. The city also needs 2 additional outdoor swimming pools and a golf course to bring its recreational facilities up to SCORP standards.

It is also clear that in the near future, due to the growing popularity of soccer, softball and Little League, there will be a need for soccer fields, softball diamonds and a program to rehabilitate the existing Little League fields.

RECREATIONAL FACILITIES ; EXISTING, SUGGESTED AND SUGGESTED AT CAPACITY FACILITY STANDARD EXISTING SUGGESTED SUGGESTED AT CAPACITY Baseball Diamonds 1 / 6000 3 8 11 Softball Diamonds 1 / 3000 8 16 22 Little League Diamonds 1 / 4000 11 13 16 Basketball Courts 1 / 4000 11 13 16 Tennis Courts 1 / 2000 18 25 33 Football Fields 1 / 15,000 3 3 4 Track Field 1 / 20,000 3 3 3 Natural Beaches Capacity for 3% Outdoor Swimming Pool 1 / 15,000 1 3 4 Indoor Skating Rink 1 / 50,000 1 1 1 Boat Launch Area 1 water body 1 (no motors) 1 1 Picnic Area 1 / 4000 5 13 26 Playgrounds 25 Golf Courses 1 hole / 3000 0 18 holes 22 holes Soccer 8 Total Acreage 15 acres / 1000 533 acres 705 acres 975 acres Managed by Park and Rec. **NOTE: Some of the facilities in this inventory are state and private facilities which the city may lost access to.

Most Notably:
Jarvis Softball Field
Wesleyan Tennis Courts and Skating Rink
Vinal Technical School Facilities

NEIGHBORHOOD ANALYSIS

The recreation plan maps also display for analysis purposes, the catchment areas for two types of facilities. This analysis will consider these two types of facilities: neighborhood playgrounds and neighborhood parks. These maps also display the census tracks and the estimated populations in each tract to better understand the distribution of the population throughout the city.

Playgrounds are generally considered for those children in the elementary schools. Playgrounds should serve an area within a maximum radius of one half mile. The accompanying map shows Middletown’s playgrounds, with one half mile radius indicated around each of them.

As is clear from the map, the older residential neighborhoods around the downtown area are adequately served by neighborhood playgrounds. It is these areas, in and around the downtown area, which will be utilized most heavily by pedestrian traffic. The outlying areas are not as adequately served but this plan recognized that there is shift towards the use of the automobile to transport young children to the most desirable playground, as opposed to having them walk from their homes to the closest playground. For this reason, the Plan of Development does not strongly emphasize the provision of playgrounds to service the currently unserviced neighborhoods in the city.

Neighborhood parks, that include a playfield, should be within a one-mile radius of the users residence. The accompanying map identifies neighborhood park facilities along the one-mile radius around them. Here the map shows that the majority of the city is within a playfield catchment area. Those areas which are not within a playfield catchment area are those areas which are characterized by low density development. The population in these outlying areas of low-density development is small and dispersed and therefore this population would normally use an automobile to travel to an existing facility closer to the city’s center.

While neighborhood parks and playgrounds appear to be sufficiently distributed throughout the city, the plan recognizes that these areas are constantly in need of frequent maintenance, upkeep and patrols to deter vandalism and other forms of crime. Activity deters crime and therefore well-advertised citywide events should be held within these facilities. This will both inform the city’s residents of the existing recreation areas and bring activity to these often under utilized areas.

POPULATION DYNAMICS

It is also important to look at the City’s population dynamics to better understand the need for various types of recreational facilities. As the demographic section of this Plan of Development shows, the less than 5 year old age cohort has increased substantially between 1980- and 1990. While at the same time, the citizens of traditional child bearing age declined and the older cohorts increased. This indicates that there will be an increasing demand for children’s recreational facilities for a period of approximately 10 to 15 years. But, in the long run, Middletown’s aging population will demand facilities more appropriate for their age groups, and hence the city should be planning to meet the needs of our aging population.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above discussion, the Plan concludes that as the city’s population becomes a more mobile one and there is an increased need for more efficient management and maintenance of recreational facilities the policy of recreational facilities dispersed citywide will become less and less suitable.

This Plan of Development feels that there should be a gradual move away from the policy of recreational facilities dispersed citywide. There should be a move towards a policy of providing large centralized recreational complexes. The proposed Kennedy Track and Crystal Lake facilities are in line with this centralized recreational complex theory. Other properly located complexes such as at the Veterans Memorial Park site, similar to the proposed Kennedy and Crystal Lake complexes should be encouraged.

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