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Hedgehog Park work gets Salem board approval

SALEM — Construction on new restrooms and a pavilion at Hedgehog Park could begin next fall.

Earlier this week, selectmen unanimously approved the use of $44,000 in recreation impact fees for the engineering work on the project.

Recreation director Christopher Dillon said the engineering work will help determine concrete costs for the project and also help kick-start fundraising.

“We are moving ahead with the Hedgehog Park master plan, which was adopted by the Board of Selectmen in 2008,” said Dillon. “Phase three includes the demolition of the existing bathrooms and warming area with the construction of a new one with an extended pavilion as well.”

Dillon said the total cost of the project could range from $90,000 to $160,000. He said the final cost will be determined by a number of factors, such as whether there will be automatic flush toilets or air hand dryers, that will be hashed out during the engineering of the project.

“By working with the engineer to come up with those numbers and what kind of structure we will have, we’ll be able to come up with the hard numbers,” said Dillon.

Several nonprofit groups throughout town have expressed an interest in helping with the fundraising for the construction, but have stated that they want to see more concrete construction plans and costs before committing.

Selectman Pat Hargreaves, who also serves on the Recreation Advisory Committee, said the project should play out similarly to the first phase of the Hedgehog Park master plan, which included the construction of a skate park.

“In the beginning, when we were talking about the skate park, nothing really happened until we started work on it,” he said. Once people saw there was progress, Hargreaves said, the fundraising increased.

Selectman James Keller asked whether the restrooms and pavilion were the top priority for the recreation department.

“Currently, yes,” said Dillon. “It will be an area where groups can gather and have picnics and hold family reunions or birthday parties.”

Hargreaves noted that the improved structure will also allow the recreation department to add programs.

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