Outdoor fitness area eyed for Linden Park

Naugatuck Public Works Department employees remove trees and brush at Linden Park on Feb. 7. Borough officials are looking into the possibility of installing a fitness court at the park. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are looking to build an outdoor fitness area at Linden Park.

Town Planner Lori Rotella unveiled a potential fitness court for the park, which is located at the end of Riverside Drive along the Naugatuck River, during the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting on Feb. 5.

The court, which is designed and would be installed by the San Francisco-based National Fitness Campaign, is 38 feet by 38 feet and features equipment to do seven different types of exercises.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the plan is to install the court near the tennis courts and playground at Linden Park.

The project costs $120,000, Hess said, and the borough is applying for a $30,000 grant to offset it. According to the grant application, the borough has to raise at least $45,000 in donations and sponsorships by the end of this year to be eligible for the grant. The borough would be expected to cover up to $45,000, depending on how much it secures in donations.

The board approved adopting the grant application and sending the proposal to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses for review of funding by a vote of 6 to 1, with Burgess Michael Bronko opposed.

The borough’s cost for the court will be taken up with the rest of the proposed capital projects for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The discussion on capital projects is scheduled for March 25.

Recreation Department Secretary Emily Osterberg said the court will be run and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. She said it would be a minimal cost to maintain since the equipment is made out of the same material as playgrounds.

Burgess Robert Neth said he supports the court but was concerned about possible vandalism.

“You try to do something nice and, as time goes on, people destroy it because they just don’t care,” Neth said. “That’s why people get frustrated trying to do things like this.”

Burgess Dorothy Hoff said the presence of people in the park and using the court might be a deterrent to any crime.

“We might actually have less vandalism the more people that are down there,” Hoff said.

Hess said Linden Park, which he feels is underutilized, is the perfect location for the court since a portion of the Naugatuck River Greenway runs through there.

“We are working on cleaning out the bamboo and invasive species along the river that are killing all the trees. Linden Park is going to become a much more beautiful site,” Hess said. “We are going to make a real effort to bring back Linden Park and the river for the community.”

Members of the community also voiced support for the project.

Resident Vincent Siefert said it would be a benefit to all the people in Naugatuck.

“We are taxpayers. The more fit we stay, the longer we live, the more we pay taxes,” Siefert said.

Jennifer Stone, a physical education teacher at Andrew Avenue Elementary School, said the court would provide exercise opportunities for students and families throughout the borough.

“Once the word spreads I believe this would be a place where families can come to enjoy a walk in the park and a fitness experience like no other,” Stone said.

Hess said he supports the project, but it will come down whether officials can find the money for it in the upcoming 2019-20 budget.

“This will be a very nice project. It is a question of funding,” Hess said.