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Norwalk: Park Will Be Upgraded Using Funds From Grant

NORWALK, Conn. – The children playing in Norwalk's Flax Hill Park didn't care about the orange stakes on the lawn near the parking lot. But that area should be attracting their attention come November.

A wooden pavilion will be built there, thanks to the work of Keep Norwalk Beautiful and a $20,000 Community Improvement Grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, city officials say. The low pitch beam shelter will seat 48 people, according to David Shockley, Keep Norwalk Beautiful chairman.

"The need for public open spaces within the city's urban core is at an all-time high, and the community use and respect for Flax Hill Park has risen considerably over the past several years," Shockley said in an email. "The collective goal with this park is to provide an attractive and well-appointed park in which to engage youths in more outdoor physical activities in a safe and natural setting."

One Norwalk resident, who regularly visits Flax Hill Park and Cranbury Park, says the pavilion is a great idea. "People just want to come out here with their kids and have a little area to be covered up by," said Marc Norwood. "Same reason we go take cover at Cranbury Park, sun, rain, whatever. Picnic tables, doubles as place to have lunch with a friend, co-worker, their kids. ... A lot of people come here every day."

It might make the park the kind of destination Taylor Farm is, he said. But another Norwalker sees a problem with that idea: no running water. She said it would be great if Keep Norwalk Beautiful could come up with the money to install a bathroom at the park.

The pavilion will measure 20 feet by 28 feet, with laminated columns, and will sit on a concrete slab, Shockley said. It will be next to the ball field.

"The ball field isn't maintained anyway," Norwood said. "It's inactive, and there are a lot of things you could do with the space."

The Lowe's grant funding will be used to purchase the pavilion materials kit, which is budgeted for $13,000, and for the concrete slab, which with labor and materials is budgeted for $7,000, Shockley said. The entire project, including pavilion and concrete slab labor and materials, is estimated to be $29,000.

Keep Norwalk Beautiful will partner with the Recreation and Parks Department, the Golden Hill Neighborhood Association , local mason contractors and corporate sponsors to match the Lowe's grant funds. A $1,000 grant from UPS will fund the installation of a perennial garden nearby.

The nearest Lowe's store is in Danbury. "Lowe's Heroes" from that store will help with the project. "I believe Lowe's is looking to expand to this area," Shockley said.

The Lowe's grant is one of 120 merit-based grants awarded nationally to support grassroots community improvement projects, according to Tad Diesel, the city's director of business and marketing.

Shockley said, "A pavilion would serve as a focal point for programming, special events, picnics, and neighborhood meetings to name just a few of the positive benefits this structure would provide to the community."

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