Revised Drummer Boy Park Plan To Go Before Town Meeting

by Rich Eldred
A new Drummer Boy Park plan will go before voters at the May 11 annual town meeting. FILE PHOTO A new Drummer Boy Park plan will go before voters at the May 11 annual town meeting. FILE PHOTO

BREWSTER – It seems every year there is a Drummer Boy Park master plan or revision up for a vote at town meeting. This May 11’s annual town meeting will be no different.

In 2020, Brewster received a state grant to update the master plan for Drummer Boy Park, which Brewster purchased in 1988. The Drummer Boy Park Advisory Committee was formed later that year to update the plans and presented a new master plan at the November 2021 town meeting, where it was adopted unanimously. The advisory committee was disbanded.

The town was also planning a previously approved boardwalk to the Cedar Ridge property and then onto town-owned Wing Island. The Wing Island connection proved controversial due to concerns over increased foot traffic to the island and beach, its effect on migrating birds and the boardwalk’s impact on salt marsh views. As a result, the implementation of the master plan was rejected at the November 2022 town meeting.

A special town meeting was held in March 2023, driven by a citizens’ petitions to rescind the approval of the adopted master plan. The town meeting referred the 2021 master plan to a new advisory committee that was to study and update the plan and report to the May 2024 town meeting with the provision that any plan not include a connection to Wing Island.

The new advisory committee has completed its review and is presenting the results next month as Article 22 in the town meeting warrant. Last week, the group presented an 18-page report to the select board and finance committees.

Katie Scott, chair of the Drummer Boy Advisory Committee, said the master plan actions cover four basic issues: parking; stormwater management, as the site can get waterlogged; accessibility and connectivity; and amenities such as the playground and historical village.

Parking, pedestrian access and stormwater were to be covered in the first phase of work, and the second phase covered the playground, replacing the storage building with a shade pavilion, and upgrading the band gazebo.

“The committee designed and issued a survey to gauge visitor use patterns and the importance of potential improvements,” Scott told the finance committee.

The survey drew 470 responses. Most wanted no change in parking spaces with little support for the parking plans in the 2021 master plan. There was support for more benches and selective clearing of underbrush and invasive vegetation. There was moderate support for relocating the playground and constructing a shade pavilion and water stations.

“Overall the sentiments expressed through the survey response convey the message that respondents want the park to remain largely as it is now and that improvements at Drummer Boy Park should not be prioritized over other projects,” Scott said. “The committee has recognized how special the park is to our residents and we want to make our recommendations that are responsive to recent public feedback.”

She added, “There is a clear preference for low-cost solutions and to try to identify alternative funding sources.” Brewster’s financial outlays for Nauset High, the Sea Camps and possibly the elementary schools were a concern.

The committee believes structures that are deteriorating should be prioritized. The committee wants to preserve the park character, maintain infrastructure, emphasize low-cost and green solutions and seek alternative funding.

“We recommend to preserve the formal and informal parking as is,” Scott said, “but to continue to monitor its impact on the park. For stormwater, our committee recommends to maximize low-impact, cost-effective solutions to improving drainage including rain gardens and vegetated swales.”

“It’s not going to be exclusively rain gardens and vegetated swales but as much as we can,” Town Manager Peter Lombardi added. “Staff that was involved felt comfortable with the recommendations.”

The committee also recommends additional benches for the paved loop and pruning and removing invasive species to enhance the marsh views.

A measure to “improve the playground to make it safe and accessible to all, shifting new structures away from wetlands or to higher elevation” was also recommended, Scott said. “We recommend repurposing the existing building to a shade pavilion or building a new open-air structure utilizing the existing concrete slab and providing several new accessible picnic tables.”

The bandstand should be maintained and a storage shed added for the town band. Portable toilets would become year-round, and bike racks and a water station should be added.

“It is important to note that in 2022 the playground was identified as nearing the end of its useful life by a certified playground inspector,” Scott said, adding that its improvement, while costly, could be funded through multiple sources.

Based on public input the committee is not suggesting any new paved trails or parking.

Finance committee member Frank Bridges noted when the existing park trail was partially paved he saw an increase in usage by elder residents who found it easier to walk on asphalt. He felt the original paving of the trail was a good idea.

“The playground, the way it is situated, is unusable a great deal of the time,” he said. “If we get anywhere near a decent rainfall it fills up like a fishbowl. When it’s flooded parents and kids don’t use it. I hope this plan envisions moving the playground to an area it’s not going to be flooded out.”

“The playground is adjacent to a wetland. It’s nowhere you would put a playground today,” Lombardi noted. “The idea is to shift it slightly away from the wetlands, bring it closer to where the pavilion would be and to elevate it as necessary and put in proper drainage.”

Lombardi noted any playground work is Community Preservation Act-eligible, so that is a funding source.

“This is more of a soft approach. It gets some things done and gives us a direction and I fully support it,” Finance Committee Chair Pete Dahl said of the advisory committee’s recommendations.

The select board unanimously approved the plan earlier last week, and the finance committee followed with a 6-0 vote in support.