Enjoying the great outdoors in Fitchburg

By Rachel Benoit

With the coming of spring and warmer temperatures, residents of Fitchburg are now able to enjoy the great outdoors.  Within the city there are 19 public parks, ranging from small playgrounds to the popular Coggshall Park that sits on 250 acres of conservation land.

By giving people the opportunity to utilize these recreational areas, the Parks Department is doing a great service to the community, according to longtime Fitchburg resident Jennifer Richards. “I have lived here all my life, and sometimes I think Fitchburg gets a lot of bad hype,” Richards said. “I’ve heard some people call it the ‘dirty burg.’ But when I go to jog at Coolidge Park or take my niece to some of the playgrounds, it makes me think that the city really isn’t so bad and has a lot of nice areas.”

Other park users may agree with Richards, but some such as Michelle St.Onge feel that more can be done to improve these facilities, such as better waste management.  She says, “I walk every day at the track in Coolidge Park, and it’s beautiful, but a lot of times the trash is overflowing and then people start littering.  It ruins that landscape.”

Pamela Arsenault, who lives minutes away from Goodrich playground, said that graffiti was often an issue. “I bring my kids to Goodrich playground a lot during the summer, and they love it,” Arsenault said. “I would love it a lot more if there wasn’t spray paint over the equipment and buildings; I think it gives the area a bad image.” 

The management of the parks it the responsibility of the Department of Public Works, whose function includes: “[to] promote quality of life in Fitchburg by providing varied and numerous leisure and recreational opportunities through the maintenance and improvement of public lands and parks.” They are in charge of a total of 427 acres in 33 different parks.  In addition, the Fitchburg Recreation Department and its service providers are in charge of organizing events and its mission statement includes helping to “provide essential services, facilities, and programs necessary for the positive development and well-being of the community.”

According to Director Kayla McNamara, the department is “as diverse as the community it serves,” and she emphasizes a balance between the “needs of one verses the needs of many” in providing activities and recreation for Fitchburg residents.   

With clear skies and sunny weather in the forecast, people in the community like Richards are embracing spring and the parks that Fitchburg has to offer.  Events and organizations such as the men’s and women’s basketball leagues, and the Boys and Girls Club are also available for the younger generations to join and benefit from.  In addition, the new program Fun n’ Fitchburg is seeking to create “a vibrant park system” in the city and claims to have a neighborhood focus by promoting the restoration and improvement of the current parks. 

This is good news for people like Richards who states, “I’m an outdoors person, and even though I live in a city I would much rather be at Coolidge Park than exercising in a gym or sitting at home. If Fitchburg could put some more work into their parks, then maybe more people will feel the same way.”

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