Ward Park Passion: What Drives Petitioners?
Three members of the Ward Park Neighborhood Association opened up about their connection to Ward Park that has driven them to fight locating a new Senior Center within its boundaries.
While many of the arguments laid out by the Ward Park Neighborhood Association focus on the practical aspect of locating a new $7 million Senior Center within the park's boundaries, at the core of their arguments is an emotional connection to the park that has served the city since the 1920's.
“We’ve raised four kids there and it’s an emotional thing to see them take that park away,” said Ned Femestermacher who abuts the park. “We just think it is a shame that is going to be taken away from our youth. They are taking land away from our park. Period.”
The park is a location for all the people of Marlborough, said Femestermacher who has lived in the area since the late 1970's. The park land was set aside as open space for the people of the city and a large park downtown is not something that should be given up, argues the association.
“It’s not their park. It is our park,” said Femestermacher.
The land has been a park since the 1920's, said Nickolas Michael who has lived in the area for 15 years. This history is not something to be discarded, he said as he referenced a newspaper article from 1923.
“I really like this quote here: 'The project is something present generations will benefit from and future generations will bless those who made it possible.' That’s the kind of history that is being ignored,” said Michael. “The fond memories go all the way back to ’23 and I think that is what is hard for people to come to terms with."
An entire community exists around and in the park, said Chrissy who lived in the area for years and still owns rental properties.
“We have grown together," she said. "It’s a huge community.”
The association has pointed out that the specific land to be used for the senior center is one of the few spots in the city that is available for pick-up field games.
“They play cricket ... they don’t need a permit. It’s just a great open space,” said Michael.
The group is still collecting signatures through an online petition that has netter over 650 signatures so far.