By JENNIFER SPRAGUE, Press staff
MIDDLETOWN — Several residents of Trolley Crossing Lane pleaded with the Common Council Monday night to help them find a way to clean up a deteriorating area of open space known as Westlake Park.
The park — which includes a small lake, rotting bridges and overgrown trails, as well as an overgrown baseball field and deteriorating tennis and basketball courts — is located off Westlake Drive, between the Trolley Crossing condominiums and Hunter’s Crossing, an apartment complex.
The park once belonged to the Westlake Association, a now-defunct condo association. Because the association no longer exists, it is not clear who owns the park and how that affects efforts to establish ownership and fix up the area.
Bill Maune, who lives in the Trolley Crossing condos, said he would like to see the city take over the park, assuming liability and maintenance. People have made repairs to the park but have done so anonymously, he said, to avoid being held liable if someone became injured.
Because it is not clear who owns the park, city attorney Tim Lynch encouraged Westlake area residents to contact a real estate attorney. He said it would likely require individual condo associations and apartment complex owners to agree for the city to take over the park. There are more than a dozen complexes in the Westlake area.
Jim Horne, who has lived in Trolley Crossing for 30 years, said he remembers when people had picnics on the island and when the tennis and basketball courts were usable. He said he would like to see the city put some money aside to fix up the area around the lake to provide recreational opportunities for the many area residents.
“There was one other park in the area,” he said, referring to Cucia Park. “Recently, you sold that to the government.”
Esther Green, who has lived in Trolley Crossing for 15 years, said “I’ve watched the conditions of the bridges, especially those connecting the island to the park.” “It’s not going to be long before they’re falling down,” she said. “Those bridges need to be repaired before someone gets hurt.”
Sean Brunnock, who manages two apartment complexes in the area, said the overgrown park may have served as an escape route for the perpetrators of several recent car break-ins. Cleaning up the area, he said, could curb crime.
Robert Paradis, the last president of the now-defunct Westlake Association, said, rather than turning the area into a city park, he imagines re-establishing the association and charging each condo and apartment unit $10 per year to support maintaining the park.
Councilman Gerald Daley said the city needs “to give them help in solving this issue.”
“The sense I get is the best solution is for this to become a city park,” he said. “It’s not that they want to own that park. They want it maintained.”
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