Two years ago during budget deliberations Council Member Bob Daniels suggested surplusing unused city property.
In the end the city sold off only one small parcel.
It was during that audit the city discovered five forgotten pocket parks — ones off the beaten path, tucked into the backyards of residential neighborhoods.
It seemed only a few public works employees — those who were mowing some of the properties — were even aware they existed.
Late last year Mayor John Holic tasked the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board with coming up with a master parks plan for the city.
On Monday, Council Member Emilio Carlesimo raised the question again: what to do about those local gems?
As council liaison on the board, Carlesimo said he just wanted to have an answer should council ask the question.
The board decided its first order of business ought to be a guided tour of the open spaces before any recommendations are made.
But not before a few members weighed in on the subject.
Longtime board member Monty Andrews was decidedly against making any improvements to the areas. He said they were designed as open spaces.
“There’s been some real controversy among neighbors even,” Andrews said, some in favor of making improvements, some against.
“Some feel they shouldn’t be infringed upon. Others think they are there for their personal use.”
Indeed, some of the open spaces — which are officially numbered, not named — have small flowerbeds that have been planted by residents.
Some are in their natural wild, overgrown state, while others are neatly mowed, some with picnic tables, some without.
One has been partially paved over for parking space.
A couple of members said one option for that parcel would be to sell it off. Many of the properties have written assurances connected to them, taking that option off the table, lest the property revert to private ownership.
“Certainly we don’t want to open them up to traffic,” Andrews said. “Most are in people’s backyards. That’s where you are going to run into problems. These (pocket parks) haven’t changed since 1926. To me, they’re just open spaces.
“You’d have some real controversy if you tried to sell them off. We’d probably see a revolt.
“You don’t want to put signs up unless you put in a walking path. It’s pretty useless.”
“I thought they should be assessed,” said Carlesimo. “Monty’s probably right. The five of them are all in behind people’s backyards. If they start attracting people, it’s going to be a nuisance to the neighbors. They’re the only ones using them.”
If the city were to improve the pocket parks, then they’d have to maintain them.
“The city isn’t in a position to do that,” Carlesimo said.
He suggested another option: Forget about them.
The discussion, when it comes up again, will be in the hands of Linda Kenfield, a new board member who was tapped as chair Monday. Charles Alphano was elected vice chair.