By Rob Glidden
The Southington Jaycees have launched a strong effort to revive Jaycee Park, a tiny area of green space on Union Street nestled among the small neighborhoods in Plantsville.
For years, the group has been using the park as the site of their annual Easter Egg hunt, but they are hoping that working on the site will provide them with more opportunities to use the space.
“We’ve always wanted this, we just needed the right crew,” said Judy Socha, chairman of the Southington Jaycees board. “Our chapter is growing and we had a lot of new members who wanted to see this happen.”
The Jaycees gathered feedback from neighborhood residents and local children before taking the idea to the town’s Parks Department.
Assistant Parks Superintendent Michael Manware described it as “a true neighborhood park” and said it was considered part of Southington’s park system.
“We’ve maintained it, but it’s been a desolate location over the years,” Manware said. “The Jaycees came to us and I began working with [Socha]. They have been fantastic and spearheaded this whole thing.”
The group has purchased a swing set which was installed by the Parks Department and also funded the removal of over 45 trees from the park. Many trees are still in the area and Socha said that before this work was done, the area resembled a small forest more than a real park.
“We didn’t want to take that atmosphere away, but there was almost no sunlight getting through,” Socha said.
Eagle Scout Blake Bauer also contributed to the effort and led a team of volunteers who built a brand new sign for the park. Manware said that the park would continue to lean more towards “passive” recreation, meaning that it would be less focused on sports than some of the larger town parks.
The Jaycees are also seeking support of local businesses hoping to “sponsor” additional work on the park.