Crews from the Derby Department of Public Works are finishing improvements to the picnic grove and basketball courts off Nutmeg Avenue.
“The reason why we did the improvements is because it’s been neglected for years and . . . it didn’t look good,” said Anthony DeFala, the city’s Director of Public Works.
The courts and Coon Hollow picnic groves are off a steep hill from Hawthorne Avenue.
Prior to the city’s work, a slope with a rickety staircase connected the courts and the picnic grove.
But the hill, which was overgrown with brush and vines, was frequently washing out during heavy rains.
DeFala said a bulk of the work for the past month or so has been improving the drainage.
Now the land is at a more gradual angle and filled with large stones to help prevent flooding.
Trees were also trimmed to prevent branches from falling onto basketball players.
“I’ve had complaints about (tree) limbs falling onto the court for about a year now and we didn’t want another liability on our hands,” DeFala said.
The old, worn-out stairway leading toward the picnic area is being replaced.
“The pathway to the picnic area was constantly being vandalised,” DeFala said. “People would just rip the wood apart from the handrails and the steps.”
DeFala said the project cost about $15,000. The department is building a new set of stairs and handrails in their facility that will be completed in about 10 days.
“Once the stairs are complete they will be safety compliant, it wasn’t before,” DeFala said. “And we’re building it with heavy pressurized lumber so people can’t vandalize it.”
The parking lot to the picnic area now has a wider, two-way entrance.
DeFala plans on updating the aging pavilion with new gutters and other basic improvements to the picnic area.
“My plans are to put a new bocce ball court and a horseshoe pit,” DeFala said. “I don’t have the money from this year’s budget, but hopefully in next year’s”
Derby residents can rent the facility for $350. The cost for non-Derby residents is $500. Call the mayor’s office for more information.