“Little Fenway!” Overhaul of Fairlawn Park, to add 3 New Pickleball Courts – Lincoln, RI

The town of Lincoln is preparing for a $400,000 overhaul of Fairlawn Park, nicknamed “Little Fenway,” to include renovated facilities, a new playground and recreation space and off-street parking. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)
By NICOLE DOTZENROD, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

LINCOLN – Fairlawn Park is preparing for a spring revival.

The town of Lincoln hopes to replace the park’s outdated playground, install new basketball and pickleball courts, renovate the baseball diamond, refurbish and expand the restroom and concession facilities and add off-street parking.

Bids are out for the bulk of the project, which was budgeted last year for $100,000 from the town, plus a $300,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The park was last renovated in 2001, according to Town Planner Al Ranaldi, when the town installed handicap access and a new path connecting the park at McDuff Street to the basketball courts located through the woods behind Reservoir Avenue.

“It was a good attempt to bring the two areas closer together, but in the meantime the basketball courts have an older audience and it was hard to supervise the courts from a summer programming standpoint,” Ranaldi said. “Kids appreciate basketball, but counselors can’t be in two places at one time.”

“You can’t shout across, you can’t see them,” added Parks and Recreation Director Alan Moreau, who said it was like a field trip bringing students to use the courts.

To remedy the problem, Ranaldi and Moreau worked with Town Engineer Leslie Quish on a plan to bring a new basketball court to the main playground area. Plans for the old court space are to be determined.

The new basketball space will also include striping for two pickleball courts and an additional oversized pickleball court that they hope to add basketball hoops to. Moreau said the plan expands the amount of recreation space, while condensing it.

The drawings also include space for some off-street parking. Ranaldi said, “Everyone in town uses the baseball field, but it’s all on street parking. It’s truly a neighborhood park. For all intents and purposes, if there is no baseball game, the playground attracts a couple of kids.”

Moreau said the park is nicknamed “Little Fenway,” a nod to its miniature Green Monster in right field. Moreau said an even larger “little monster” would be added to protect the playground.

Outdated playground equipment will be replaced as part of the plan, and the location of the playground will be moved to use space more efficiently. Moreau said the new playground would be wheelchair accessible and would include a few adaptive elements.

“Historically, from a municipal standpoint, playgrounds go through a rebirth of rules and regulations every 20 years or so. This equipment was roughly 30 years out of date,” Ranaldi said.

The location of the park’s pavilion will also change, but only from one side of the restroom/concession building to the other. By changing the location of the pavilion from west to east, parents, guardians and camp counselors will be more centrally located and able to visualize more park space.

“With the new design you can have three generations all in the same area,” Moreau said.

“An older person can sit out of the sun under the pavilion and watch a game or watch the kids from the playground,” Ranaldi said.

Both the building and attached covered pavilion will be expanded and renovated inside and out, with the addition set to include an accessible family bathroom and a community space with a roll-up window for concessions, which can be rented through the Parks Department.

Quish said bids are due April 9, and that officials hope to award the project at the April Town Council meeting.

“We can start shortly thereafter. We’re looking for them to get going very quickly on this,” she said. In the meantime, the crews from Parks and Recreation and the Department of Public Works are clearing brush and working to clean the site up ahead of construction.

“We’re happy to be breathing new life into this park,” Ranaldi said.

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