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Wyatt Park Revitalization project received big boost from HEAL

LACONIA —  Wyatt Park had been falling into disrepair and was used by few community members because of safety issues. Its basketball court needed resurfacing, there was no lighting, traffic patterns made it dangerous to walk or bike to, and it had become a place where police would regularly respond to late night disturbances and vandalism.
The City of Laconia, led by its Parks & Recreation Department, applied for and received a HEAL community grant in 2012 to help revitalize Wyatt
Park in the South End neighborhood of its city.
The HEAL grant included approximately $10,000 in grant monies and over $80,000 of training and technical assistance over the two-year grant
period. Laconia had selected Wyatt Park as a priority project because there were already several active community champions advocating for
upgrading the park.
Renovation plans were developed in response to feedback from residents and business owners in the Wyatt Park-South End community. Safety
and access to the park were some of the top concerns voiced by the community during several forums conducted by the city and HEAL NH over
nine months. They quickly realized they needed to bring in the Department of Public Works to address these issues. The DPW had just redone
one street near Wyatt Park, and another was on the docket to be repaved. The timing was critical.
Armed with renovation plans for the park and backed by community support, Kevin Dunleavy and Amy Lovisek of the Laconia Parks &
Recreation Department met with the Department of Public Works to make their case for safer access to the park. They were prepared to take
this to the City Council if that did not work.
Amy and Kevin met with Laconia’s Public Works Director, Paul Moynihan, and Assistant Director, Luke Powell, near the park to show them the plans.
“The timing was perfect,” explains Amy. “Two families with strollers were trying to cross the street to get to Wyatt Park. We all watched while the mothers had to remove the children from the strollers, carry their children and drag the stollers behind them, all while trying to dodge traffic.”
While the DPW already had a budget to repair a street in that area, the project was put to the front of the line and an additional $15,000 was
added to include extra safety and accessibility improvements including ADA-compliant tipdowns for the crosswalks.
According to Paul Moynihan, “We had recently done road upgrades on the street sections adjacent to Wyatt Park, but we hadn’t addressed
accessibility improvements to the adjacent sidewalk. The HEAL Grant initiative prompted us to revisit the pedestrian and active transportation
needs at this site and to broaden our view to accomplish similar improvements on other city roadway upgrade projects in the future.”
Support for the park did not stop at the DPW. When the City Council realized the support and momentum the park was receiving by the community, it reallocated $50,000 for improvements to Wyatt Park.
“HEAL was a catalyst for the Wyatt Park project,” said Amy. “The grant helped us get more support and feedback from the community, paid for some of the improvements, but, more importantly, helped us leverage our relationships with the other departments in the City to really make this
park a special place for families to get together.''

Improvements to Wyatt Park included:
• Water bubbler/bottle filling station in the park
• Bike rack and picnic tables
• High visibility signs, new crosswalks, sidewalks with tipdowns with detectable warning devices, and other pedestrian safety and accessibility measures
• New fencing and signage around the park
• Resurfaced basketball court painted for multiple use including basketball,four square, hopscotch, and pickleball
• Lighting inside the park for safety
• Walking path installed around the park perimeter with extra green space

 
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