Published in the September 16, 2016 edition
By MYRON F. DITTMER
President, Mt. Hood Park Association
MELROSE — Golf Management Company, LLC (GMC) is hosting a public meeting at the clubhouse at Mount Hood, 100 Slayton Rd., on Monday, September 19, at 7 pm to receive public input and comments on the overall operation and of the golf course and Park.
This is an important meeting to provide your comments and suggestions to GMC management on their management of these areas.
As President of the Mt. Hood Park Association, our members will be present to provide our comments and suggestions. Focusing mainly on the park areas within the 235 acres that make up Mount Hood, the Association wishes to provide the public with our comments as noted below.
Ponds at Mount Hood
We all know how dry it has been the last 3-4 years and this has had a negative impact on the use of the ponds at Mount Hood for recreational uses. First Pond is being negatively impacted by an overgrowth of weeds and algae along with a substantial reduction in its water level. All of the ponds at Mount Hood have water levels dramatically lower than what has been seen in many decades because of the draught the use of water for golf course irrigation. A number of years ago, the Association was considering sponsoring a fishing derby at 1st Pond for the youth of our city but had to cancel it because we were told the oxygen levels were so poor in the pond that the fish would not last more than a day. Are there any remediation methods that could be employed to reclaim the ponds for fishing?
During the winter months, GMC and the city continue to make available, for recreational uses, 1st Pond and the 1st Fairway, for skating, hockey, and sledding. In addition, I noticed that some residents are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the golf course when sufficient snow covers the fairways – and I have also enjoyed doing this myself. We hope GMC and the Park Department will continue to make these venues available to residents during the winter months and also sponsoring additional winter-time activities. This is an important city resource we should continue to expand during winter months when golfing is no longer possible.
Hiking Trails at Mount Hood
Over the past 3-4 years, trail signs have been installed and the hike paths occasionally groomed; however, this has not been a routine effort. I recently went hiking at Mount Hood and found the trails in disrepair. There needs to be more of an effort to keep up and repair these trails to make them usable by the public. There needs to be more attention paid to regular trail upkeep and development. This is something a Mount Hood Volunteer Corps could assist with.
Benches & Picnic Tables
Over the past 4-5 years, GMC and the city have installed vandal-proof benches and picnic tables located throughout the park. The picnic tables are located adjacent to 2nd and 3rd Ponds while benches are located at 1st pond and adjacent to the 17th Fairway and then another one just up the road towards the tower.
However, no picnic tables or benches have been installed up at the Slayton Tower area where most people visit since it is the most scenic location of the park with a spectacular panoramic view of New Hampshire Mountains, the Boston Skyline, as well as Revere Beach, and all points south. I have been informed by city officials previously that the reason for not installing picnic tables and benches there is that the city does not want to encourage the gathering of young people there at night. However, why should we deprive our population with the family enjoyment of the natural surroundings of our “Melrose Jewel” because of potential youthful gatherings? Does this make sense in an age where cities all over our country are encouraging the use of their open space and natural resources? I hope that the city will reconsider and install picnic tables and benches at the Slayton Tower area since residents would greatly enjoy bringing their families up to the tower area to enjoy the spectacular view and wonderful rustic setting of Mount Hood.
Park Bulletin Board
The current park bulletin board, at the entrance to the park next to the Tot Lot, is in need of repair. It needs to have better water-proof protection of the maps and posted information within the plastic frame. I have heard several times over the past several years that it is being replaced with a better bulletin board. Are there plans to have it replaced soon?
Park Volunteer Corp.
The city’s new 7 year Open Space and Recreation Plan which was finalized in March 2015, called for a volunteer corps to help with the planning and implementation of park improvements suggested in the report. Some of these improvements included:
• Install bocce ball and horseshoe courts
• Develop existing walking trails for multi-use
• Develop a program for routine evaluation and maintenance of existing hiking trails for improvements
• Continue to clearly mark hiking trails
• Explore opportunities for special events such as fishing derbies
• Improve publicity of hiking trail availability
It has been over a year and half and this volunteer group has not been assembled. The city made a commitment to citizens back last March to establish such a volunteer corps which can play a vital role in the continuous improvement of the park for the benefit of future generations.
The flat grassy area where the big dig cap is located near Slayton Tower would be a great area to install Bocce ball courts and horseshoe pits. Additional picnic tables and benches could also be added while currently, this space is unused.
The outside and inside of Slayton Tower requires additional upkeep to prevent deterioration of this historic site and viewing area. The steps to the tower are cracked and represent a safety hazard to the public. Also, the road to the tower has been made more hazardous by numerous potholes which need to be filled in and repaired.
Mount Hood is the “Green Jewel” of Melrose and the largest open space in Melrose and; therefore, every effort should be made for its upkeep and preservation for future generations. I believe that the city can improve its upkeep of this unique and important green space.
Our final wish is that the city will continue to expand its financial investment in the upkeep of Mount Hood Park with suggestions noted previously, and that this effort includes the use of stakeholder groups and establishment of a Mount Hood Volunteer Group.