Even before I took over as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 68 in Melrose, troop meetings were sometimes held at the Jaycee Park. After I took the scoutmaster position, we began to use the park for our summer meetings, from May through September. It was nice being outside for meetings. We could practice outdoor skills and play different games. Granted, rain messed things up once in awhile but there was a shelter we could usually run to to stay dry. The hockey rink was used as a ball field for many kickball and softball games. The large pine trees provided plenty of shade. The Scouts would play Tip and impromptu games of disc golf through the pine trees. The Cub Scout Pack has held meetings there. The district has used it for Cub Scout Day Camps. The Lake Wobegon Trail is only half a block away. It worked well for the troop. We still use the park for our current summer meetings.
Over the last 15 or so years the City of Melrose has been selling off chunks of this park. The western two thirds has been sold for townhouse developments. I understand the city needed this type of housing, and that the townhouse development was well done, but it was sad to see so much of the park disappear. The existing park is still large enough for a shelter, a playground, a volleyball court, and two hockey rinks. It is still a nice park and is used quite a bit by the local residents. One of our Eagle Scouts even did his project in the park, but nothing of that project remains after the townhouse developments.
Last month, the City of Melrose sold the park to CentraCare, our local hospital and clinic campus which is right next door to the park. I think it is great that CentraCare is willing and able to expand its facitilities. It shows a commitment to the city. Unfortunately, it means that someday we will lose that park. The first planned expansion will require that the park shelter be removed. The playground and the hockey rinks will remain for awhile yet, maybe even several years. The city will be renting the remaining park land for one dollar a year as long as CentraCare does not require it.
Unfortunately, it seems that the City of Melrose does not seem to have a plan to replace this park, even though they have been selling off portions of it for over 15 years. Granted, we will still have a smaller park in place for years yet, but I am surprised, or should I say shocked, that the city may just let one park disappear from the town in the future.