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ENFIELD — The town is in the preliminary stages of redeveloping Higgins Park behind Town Hall, Town Manager Christopher Bromson said.
The project would combine the existing Higgins Park property, which is used as a softball field, with a portion of the adjoining former St. Adalbert parish property, Bromson said
The newly created Higgins Park Green would consist of an open grassy area for recreation, a new playscape, a new community center that would include an outdoor pool, a small bandshell for entertainment, a fenced-in dog park, and a quarter-mile walking trail with fitness stations, according to the conceptual plan.
In developing this project, Bromson said, the goal is to create a “town center.”
“We have limited access. We just have the green here and the gazebo,” Bromson said. “This would be a real park, a real center for people in Enfield to come and to walk and to visit and to have all kinds of different activities.”
The parish property would include the existing gymnasium and former convent, which were offered to the town by the developer at St. Adalbert’s.
The acquisition would allow for access to Higgins Park from Alden Avenue while creating a new connection into the Thompsonville section of town.
The plan is for the gymnasium to be renovated while consolidating town departments into this area, which would create additional redevelopment within Thompsonville.
He said an actual conceptual plan will be brought before the Town Council and public sometime in the fall, allowing for public input at that time.
Bromson said the town still needs to secure financing for the project from the town’s budget or state and federal grants.
Bromson said the study also will look at the old Strand Theatre and the Angelo Lamagna Activity Center, noting that the center may be relocated toward the periphery of Higgins Park, as the current structure is antiquated and doesn’t adequately serve the needs it was designed for.
He added that the town would like to add onto the St. Adalbert property with a new pool, as the current one is out of date and the cost to repair it would be exorbitant.
Bromson said transforming Higgins Park has been in the works for years, ever since the A.D. Higgins School, home to students for more than 60 years, was demolished in 2014.
The Higgins building opened as a school in 1917 and closed 62 years later in 1979. It then went through a number of incarnations over the years — it hosted some municipal offices, social service programs, and community groups.
The former school also served as the home of the Enfield Food Shelf, prior to the food pantry moving to its current location on Alden Avenue in 2004.
Derrik Kennedy, the assistant town manager in 2014, said he hoped a town green would be created once the school was demolished. Kennedy said he envisioned the space as an area where the town could host a variety of events, including an outdoor movie night or concerts on the green.
The council in October 2012 agreed to demolish the building, which is adjacent to Town Hall, at a cost of approximately $300,000.