The Park Department
Back on April 15 I mentioned that Rick Espanet had completed a history of the Park Department,
including material on the Town Park, Parklands and Hopedale Pond and posted it on the town
website. Since it's 21pages long, I thought that some of you who don't have time to read all of that
might be interested in a condensed version. If you'd like to know when young ladies and women were
first granted permission to swim in the pond, what year pond attendance first went over 15,000, or
when the basketball court was built, this is where you can find the answers.
1899 Park Commission Formed (3/6) Startup budget: $12,000 / annual budget: $2,500 - approved by
The first necessity: "A public play ground of suitable contour for such as baseball, football etc.
requiring a large acreage of fairly level land." First Parkland parcels acquired $3,917 paid to various
landowners for 176.11 acres
1900 Budget: $2,500 Swamp at Town Park drained Land graded, drainage system installed Rawson's
Bridge constructed Wooden bridge at north end of pond connects both shorelines.
Adin Ballou homestead lot acquired. Ballou Statue dedicated October 27th
1901 Budget: $2,500 First tennis court built Dirt surface Temporary bandstand erected Large & small
ball fields constructed
Rawson's Bridge raised Mistakenly built too low - boats couldn't pass under. Hazel St. entrance built
Road cut to west side of bridge connecting to railway line.
Moroney's Grove picnic area built Picnic area in a majestic pine grove off of Hazel St.entrance.
Open brook from Park to Pond enclosed
1902 First Park Field Day Celebration - July 4th Became a Town tradition for decades.
1903 Hunters elude "No Hunting" in Parklands... ...by hunting from boats. Fines then posted for this
Adin Ballou Park addition Front doorstep from Ballou's "old house" placed at the site.
Electric cars make Parklands stop Passengers dropped off & picked up at north end of Parklands near
The more things change, the more they... First arrests made by police in Parklands for "drunken
1904 Budget: $2,500 Bath House constructed Cost: $1,048.09 Built at site of old ice house which
burned down during demolition. This prevented the intended re-use of much of the frame and
sheathing in the new structure. Locker rentals were $1.50/yr. - .50 deposit given back with key return
Town Beach Opens (males only) Season attendance: 1971 baths taken. Daily high: 79
Organized sports flourish at Town Park Baseball, rugby and association football are popular
1905 Budget: $2,500 6,322 baths taken. Daily high: 143 Town Beach & Bath House expansion. Sand
placed on ice melted in to create beach area / Dressing rooms built / float and springboard added.
Bath house matron position created. Young ladies and women granted permission to swim.
1906 Budget: $2,500 Pond attendance: 3,633 / Daily high: 154
Permanent bandstand constructed Cost: $828.40 Also used as a tool shed and dressing room for
visiting teams utilizing the Town Park - if "properly behaved."
1908 Budget: $2,500 Pond attendance: 6,370 / Daily high: 181
August 15th Field day attracts 3000
1917 Budget: $2,500 Pond attendance: 6,641 / Daily high:
410 Darling Hill Roadway cut in off Freedom St. 1,800' of roadway completed - known today as
1921 Budget: $4,500 Pond attendance: 10,580 / Daily high: 555
Draper "Twilight" baseball league expands Season stats & standings kept. Huge attendance Flagpole
erected at Town Park Cost: $370.31
1928 Budget: $5,000 Pond attendance: 6,685 / Daily high: 283
Rawson's Bridge replaced Cost: $1,300. Stone structure became known as the Rustic Bridge
1932 Budget: $3,500 Pond attendance: n/a Daily high: n/a
Fisherman's Island shelter repaired Cost: $120
1937 Budget: $4,750 + $2,000 appropriation Pond attendance: 11,000 / Swim lessons: 71 passed
First N.E.A.A.A.U. swim meet competition 48 children participated
1938 Budget: $5,750 + $2,200 appropriation Pond attendance: 10,350 / wim lessons: 164 passed
First tennis tournament held "The tennis courts were in almost constant use and a baseball game took
place nearly every day."
Sept. 21st Hurricane devastates Parklands Maroney's Grove leveled. Fallen timber creates a severe
1939 Budget: $4,000 + $7,500 clean-up funding Pond attendance: 11,077 / Swim lessons: 145 passed
Parkland clean-up goes all winter and spring. Dry weather and fire danger prohibits fireplace use all
First organized "play" at Town Park Community House conducts organized youth sporting events.
1944 Budget: $5,000 Pond attendance: n/a Swim lessons: not offered All facilities used heavily as war
limits travel Limitations on wartime travel keep residents close to home. Facilities getting heavy use.
No swim lessons due to labor shortages. Bath House hours expanded to Sundays and holidays.
Men's & women's softball introduced
1946 Budget: $8,500 Pond attendance: 8282 / Swim lessons: 137 passed F. Carlton Miner hired as
1949 Budget: $11,000 Pond attendance: 8,740 / Swim lessons: 130 enrolled, 125 passed
New Park playground equipment installed Cost: $1,078.40 Swings, jungle jim, horizontal bars added.
Draper Corporation drains Hopedale Pond Solution to curb weed problem. Pond lowered & cleaned.
1950 Budget: $11,300 Pond attendance: 10,982 / Swim lessons: 100 passed
Basketball Court installed at Town Park Cost: $1135.19 Park staff added to supervise heavy use
Baseball and basketball "schools" and tennis tournaments offered
Diving class added at Pond In-town swim meets continue at Pond An end-of summer tradition started
Park programs continue to expand Archery, handicrafts, horseshoes, tennis, baseball and basketball
sessions are all well attended
1955 Budget: $14,000 Pond attendance: 10,310 / Swim lessons: 122 passed. Large slide installed at
More playground equipment added at Park Kiddie and horse swings plus overhead ladder bar
installed Park evening hours extended to 5 nights Supervision needed to ease "rowdyism and noise"
More minor hurricane damage Rains from Hurricane Diane washes out some of Parkland roadway
Pond closes for year on August 13th Flooding and polio epidemic force shutdown of swim season.
1956 Budget: $14,000 Pond attendance: 13,537 / Swim lessons: 154 passed
Lighting added to first tennis court Summer morning bus pick-up instituted 58 youngsters pr/day
average brought to & from Park.
Additional swim lessons added at Pond, 30 classes offered.
1961 Draper Corporation leases Ski Hill to Town Ski area built under thesupervision of Mr. Willard
Taft. Park Commission to operate as part of winter sports program.
1962 Budget: $14,000 Pond attendance: n/a Swim lessons passed: n/a
Parks Maintenance Supervisor passes away Longtime employee Earl Simmons meticulously
Diving Tower on little raft added at Pond
Tow rope and fencing added at the Ski Tow.
1966 Budget: n/a Pond attendance: 15,024 / Swim lessons passed: 151 Park
Tennis Clinic attracts 150 youngsters Park programs heavily utilized
""...that because of this fine recreational program the destructive acts of personal property by juveniles
in the Town is very small." All-time record Pond attendance "The money appropriated to run the
recreational program is one of the best investments for the future the town can make."
1966 S.Hopedale land purchased for development Town appropriates $15,000 to Conservation
Commission for purchase of Deluca and Draper property abutting Rt. 140 and Mellen Street Buildings
razed and burned on-site.
1968 Budget: 21,970 (approx $1 on the tax rate) Pond attendance: 18,387/ Swim lessons passed: 196
Pond attendance jumps 6000 in three years
Approximately $1 on the tax rate allows the Park Commission to "not only run one of the best
recreational programs in the area but provide all maintenance as well."
1969 Budget: 21,970 (approx $1 on the tax rate) Pond attendance: 16,120/ Swim lessons passed:
177 Summer Program interest remains high Basketball league play, shuffleboard, paddleball,
tetherball, arts & crafts, tennis, archery and baseball offerings all well attended as are various contests
such as bike races and decorating, doll contests. Trip to the new New England Aquarium added.
Swim team is popular. Water Safety Demonstration at Pond Director Charles Espanet's waterfront
staff and Firemen led by Chief Charles Watson perform simulated lifesaving procedures to a large
turnout at the Bath House.
1987 Parkland foresting controversy creates stir A major deadwood and brush clearing operation in the
Parklands was halted when the forestry agent representing the Town resigned, leaving behind a mess
of slash and debris of considerable size.
1993 No Report Issued Budget: n/a Pond attendance: n/a Swim lessons: n/a
Conservation Commission acquires land Multi-acre lot at intersection of Lapworth and Tillotson Roads
in the Pinecrest development is potential site for active recreation fields.
Huey & Duey issue ruffles feathers Domesticated ducks placed illegally on Hopedale Pond attract
children but also create problems as heavy feeding is contributing to a rapid rise in the Canada Geese
population. Some residents want them removed, others insist that they remain. Issue receives
coverage in Boston media.
1997 Budget: n/a Pond attendance: n/a Daily high: 203 Swim lessons: 114
Wooden Dugouts constructed at Town Park Hopedale High School industrial arts students design and
construct two full-sized dugouts with materials purchased by the Park Dept. The group builds two
picnic tables with leftover materials.
1997 Swim program closed nine days in July Combination of severe drought and trickle of inflow from
upstream headwaters at North Pond (despitethat area being near capacity), causes stagnancy.
Elevated bacteria count forces interruption of swim program - which never recovers upon re-opening.
Board to keep Parkland gates closed Gates to stay shut permanently. Vehicular vandalism and trash
dumping primary reasons. Hopedale Police back the decision.
1998 Pond open to non-residents for swimming Reverses Commission policy enacted in 1922. Pond
attendance increases marginally. Water quality excellent all summer.
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