Plans over two years in the making to construct a complex of four recreation buildings at Burr’s Hill Park are finally coming to fruition, and should be finished by June.
Plans over two years in the making to construct a complex of four recreation buildings at Burr’s Hill Park are finally coming to fruition, and the structures will be wholly complete for the beginning of camp season later this year, according to Parks and Recreation Department Director Tara Thibaudeau.
The four buildings — a concession stand, an ADA-compliant bathroom building, a storage building for recreation equipment, and a building for recreational staff to perform work duties — have their exteriors completed, interiors completed, and wiring has recently been installed as well. Thibaudeau said plumbing is one of the last utilities left to be completed, along with safety railings and some finishing touches.
Connecting the buildings is a platform of pavers, installed by Kenny Pimental.
The buildings cost $474,980 total, $343,203 of which comes from a DEM grant that was first awarded to Warren all the way back in 2019. Another $5,000 comes from a state legislative grant, and the remaining $131,777 comes from previous capital budget allocations in the Town budget, according to Thibaudeau.
“There are a number of accounts that over the course of years, they had set aside money to cover these projects,” she said, with some relief, hinting at the Town’s current financial predicament stemming from a large lawsuit that has resulted in the Town Council halting capital expenditures until a clearer financial picture can be gained. “I doubt I will see any capital for the next 10 years. Anything we do is going to have to be grant funded or something of that nature. Maybe longer.”
The Burr’s Hill project had a bumpy road of its own. The bid for the project was originally awarded to a company called Addaspace, incorporated in Bristol, back in October of 2021. However, their chosen design and business strategy of utilizing repurposed shipping containers for the structures did not go over well with residents who spoke out against the aesthetics of the buildings at multiple public meetings that followed.
On top of that controversy, after the bid was awarded, it came to light that the company had its business license revoked in February of 2022. Although the town provided them the opportunity to get the issue cleared up, they ultimately voided the bid in September of 2022 and sought another contractor.
In January of 2023, Blank Construction Co., of Warren, was awarded the bid.
While the hope then was to have the buildings ready for the summer of 2023, it took another year to get things going. Now, Thibaudeau said Warren residents can expect to see the buildings occupied and operational as of June of this year.
“The pavers look amazing. It just makes all four buildings come together,” she said. “I’m so excited I can’t even tell you.”
The concession stand will be staffed by existing recreation department staff during the summer camp season.
“Right now the primary role of [the concession stand] will be for camp,” she said. “We probably will use it for the movie nights and the concerts, but primarily it will be open Monday through Friday. I don’t think it will be open at the weekends at this point…Once we work out the kinks, maybe, but for now it’s a Monday to Friday, 9-3 thing, same as camp hours.”
Asked about concerns various residents had in the previous meetings discussing the complex, such as increased littering and security concerns due to persistent vandalism that happens in the area, Thibaudeau said that there were ongoing conversations about getting additional security cameras installed for the area, and additional trash cans to be installed to encourage proper trash disposal.
She said she was hopeful to have an open house in June to show off the new buildings.
“The Town has really invested in their parks since I’ve been here,” she said. “I do feel like they’ve made it a priority.”