Members of the Conservation Commission, the Historical Museum and the Rural Lands Foundation christen the new bath house at Margaret Lindley Park on Cold Spring Road on Monday morning.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — What started as an effort to return the bare minimum of services has ended with a project that maximizes the potential of a town-owned park.
Margaret Lindley Park on Cold Spring Road (Route 7), just south of the junction with Route 2, long has been a popular swimming hole for local families looking for a clear, cool, natural break from the summer's heat.
Thanks to the work begun two years ago by the town's Conservation Commission, the park this summer has new signage, new recreational opportunities and, most importantly, a new well to provide potable water to the park's bath house.
The Con Comm this year completed a well project that was funded with $65,000 in Community Preservation Act funds at the May 2013 Annual Town Meeting.
The commission sought the funds to replace a failed well that fed the rest rooms at the park, one of the properties under the care, custody and control of the body.
"It seemed to me that mothers ought to have something other than a port-a-potty when they wanted to change their children at the park," Con Comm Chairman Philip McKnight said. "To have a nice, sanitary, clean bathroom -- in addition to a changing facility -- would be a marked improvement."
A recent change in Massachusetts law regarding the proper use of CPA funds allowed the Con Comm to seek the funds, which are derived from a 2 percent surcharge on property taxes (after the first $100,000 in valuation).
"About two years ago, the statute changed, and existing parks not purchased with CPA funds were eligible for capital improvements," McKnight said. "Up until three years ago, you had to have purchased the land [with CPA funds] for park purposes."
Williamstown acquired Margaret Lindley Park in 1967, long before the Community Preservation Act was signed into law in 2000.
You can read about the early days of Margaret Lindley Park on one of two informational boards that now adorn the newly renovated bath house.
The Williamstown Historical Museum (formerly the House of Local History) and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation each designed 4-by-4 displays that educate park visitors about the area's history and natural features, respectively.
"One of the things the Conservation Commission is trying to do is make Margaret Lindley Park more of a community resource," WRLF Director Leslie Reed Evans said.
"We were out there with Phil McKnight for a hike for another reason, and he pointed out the bulletin boards on either side of the bath house and asked if Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and [Williamstown Historical Museum] would like to provide content for them.
"We jumped at the opportunity."
The WRLF board includes information about local plants and animals that one might see near the pond and along the adjacent trails and explains how Hemlock Brook, which feeds the park's pond, fits into the Hudson River Watershed.
The WHM board features historical photos from the museum's collection and text researched by the the museum staff.
Kids who want to take a break from all that reading -- and swimming -- also will have one more attraction at the park courtesy of the Williamstown Rotary, which in addition to providing new plantings to beautify the park will be installing two tether ball courts on the property.
"We do local projects to enhance the community," Williamstown Rotary Past President Robert Ware said. "When we heard there was work being done at Margaret Lindley Park, we thought it would be a good thing to get involved in."