SAUGUS — The dilapidated park behind the former Evans School met the wrecking ball this week.
The deteriorating basketball courts and tennis court are being demolished to make way for regulation-sized basketball courts with new sidewalks, parking, drainage, lighting and security cameras. The project is expected to cost $637,000.
“This is in the center of town and it’s just an eyesore,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree, who added that none of the courts are the proper size for tournaments.
“So this is definitely something that’s going to be used — it will be a place to be in Saugus without having to go out of town,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a huge benefit to have some of the middle school and high school kids going down to that location.”
The town has an ongoing problem with middle-school-aged children hanging out at the playground behind the Veterans Memorial Elementary School, which is meant for younger kids, he said. They often overpower the younger children and take over the park.
Veterans Memorial Park was renovated two years ago. It is now wheelchair accessible with handicap inclusive equipment, new swings and an updated basketball court.
A second handicap accessible playground, the Bristow Street Park, was also completed in 2017. It has a large play area with swings, slides, a seesaw and a seating area. A 10-foot tall lacrosse wall and tee-ball field were renovated, and an infield, backstop, bleachers and players’ benches were added. The park also has a new basketball court, bathrooms, concession stand, storage shed and workout stations. The park has LED lights and security cameras.
The tennis courts at Belmonte Middle School, which will be turned into an upper elementary school in a few years, were replaced in 2017. There are now five tennis courts with one overlapping pickleball court and wind screens.
Funding toward the Evans Park project was allocated at Town Meeting in May. Members approved $500,000 to be used for design, construction, lighting and security for the town’s parks and playgrounds, including but not limited to Evans and an ice rink next to the public safety building.
Two park-related articles passed at Town Meeting in 2017: one for $500,000 to repair and maintain existing playgrounds, and a second for $500,000 to add security, lighting and cameras to Bristow Street Park, Veterans Memorial Elementary School and Belmonte Middle School.