Wickham Woodlands rises from former prison site
Warwick officials to celebrate town‘s newest park with a festival on Sept. 26
Photos by Anthony Sole This is an aerial view of portion of Wickham Woodlands town park and Wickham Lake with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.
This is the floating dock þÄî donated by local company Meeco Sullivan þÄî for canoe and kayak launches. Pictured from left to right, the Meeco Sullivan team is: Adam Schlomann, Mike Keppler, Bob Sullivan, Jim Mason, Mike Hennelly and Steve Sullivan.
WARWICK — The Warwick Town Board recently designated the 600-plus acres that the town acquired for $1 for non-commercial, recreational purposes at the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility as Wickham Woodlands.
“These newly available lands represent a once-in a-lifetime for a community like Warwick,” said Supervisor Michael Sweeton. “With Wickham Lake and the combination of open space, woodlands and usable buildings, the potential is enormous.”
Coming to fruitionSweeton had appointed a citizens’ committee headed by Town Councilman Russ Kowal to explore the property’s potential. The committee held a town wide “visioning” meeting in the spring where hundreds of ideas from the community were collected.
“And now those ideas are starting to come to fruition,” Kowal said.
So far, here’s is a listing of the new facilities that either are or are planned to be in the near future:
A specially-designed baseball field designed for people of all abilities.
A floating dock — donated by local company Meeco Sullivan — for canoe and kayak launches.
A lakeside picnic area.
A two-plus mile walking trail that will link the various activity centers of Wickham Woodlands, including the sports fields, the lake and the barn area where potentially cultural, educational and artistic facilities could be created.
What could have been“The closing of Mid-Orange could have been a huge negative, costing us many local jobs and leaving a slowly decaying hole of 733 acres in the heart of the Valley,” Sweeton said in the press release detailing the plans. “Instead, we now have a new Corporate Park, 400 acres of protected wetlands and Woodlands, over 200 acres of land available to us for recreation and public use. New jobs, healthy additions to our tax rolls and wonderful recreation — definitely a cause for celebration for all of us.”
CelebrateTo that end, Sweeton and Kowal announced that a day of “food, festivities and fun for the whole family” is being planned for Saturday, Sept. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m. “to celebrate all that is happening at Warwick’s newest park.”
Catering trucks will be on site, but people are invited to bring their own lunch and provisions.
The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 27.
The day of festivities will give Warwickians a chance to see and experience the exciting potential of Wickham Woodlands.
“This is not just about seeing,” Kowal said, “it’s about celebrating. “
While plans are not yet finalized, it is hoped that people and families will be able to circulate to the three main areas:
The ball fields/pavilion.
A drive by at barn and “piggery.”
People will be able to walk the path, take a hop-on/hop-off bus or ride a hay wagon. Families will also be encouraged to bring canoes or kayaks for a “community flotilla” on the lake.
At each of these areas, a member of the committee will be there to explain what has already been done and what future plans are, with opportunity for everyone to share their thoughts about what might be included in the plans.
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