In March 2004, the voters approved a $1.1 million purchase of 14 acres with lake frontage near Bayside Park and Colchester Schools for public use. Prior to this approval, the Colchester Planning Commission conducted surveys and meetings whereby the most popular use for the property was a Community Center; specifically a multi-generational recreation facility to serve as an anchor for this important area of Town. Had the Town not purchased the property it would have likely become a private development.
In 2016, the Town created a concept plan for Lower Bayside Park, Upper Bayside Park and the Bayside/Hazelett Property, based on information gathered at meetings with community stakeholders, residents and Town boards. This process resulted in a list of desired recreation amenities for all three areas. The location chosen for the Community Center was Upper Bayside Park. After four additional public meetings in 2017, the Bayside Park concept plan was developed into a master plan.
The concept plan and master plan supported the community’s decision to locate recreation amenities at Bayside Hazelett property, which was an expectation on which the 2004 vote to purchase the property was based. Funding to conduct research, hold meetings, and create the concept and master plans was approved by the Colchester voters through the park capital plan which authorizes a half penny per year for park improvements.
In September 2019 the Selectboard authorized Town staff to develop final plans and cost estimates for the Bayside/Hazelett Parcel. The funding for this comes from impact fees paid by new development, NOT property taxes.
The Bayside Hazlett property is not a pristine habitat. It was logged numerous times by previous property owners. It was part of a larger sand plain community that has been highly disturbed by existing development and contains oak trees, pine trees, and heath shrubs. Red pitch pine is not an endangered tree and a credentialed botanist determined there are no rare plants or trees on the property. The Town plans to set aside four acres of forest as part of the final plans.
The property was purchased in 2004 to provide recreational opportunities to the residents of Colchester. The Bayside Hazlett parcel is undergoing final design to include a large natural area, pickleball courts, tennis courts, a playground, a dog park, disc golf, covered picnic pavilions, restrooms, and walking and bicycling trails. The natural area will enhance the park and leave this area preserved.
We are developing the final plans for Selectboard consideration. If the Selectboard approves the project it will then go to the voters for public approval. A possible funding source is local option taxes we have collected and have on-hand but which are restricted to voter approved capital projects.
Glen Cuttitta, Parks and Recreation Director
Sarah Hadd, Planning and Zoning Director
Aaron Frank, Town Manager