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Community Field, Holyoke

Most Holyoke natives know of it, but if not drivers on Interstate 91 in Holyoke may see a small park tucked alongside the highway, including the parking lot and playground. This is the recently renovated Community Field in Holyoke. The park itself has been around since the 1920s, but underwent a $3.1 million renovation in 2011 and re-opened in 2012.  The renovation brought a number of great additions to the park, including an ice skating path and changes to open space, as well as green infrastructure to better manage stormwater. 
                  Aside from the awesome new play structure and fenced area for dogs, Holyoke’s Community Field incorporates a number of stormwater best management practices. The site had previous problems with stormwater and experienced areas of pooling and flooding due to its location right at the bottom of a steep embankment off the edge of the highway.
The site design by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. incorporates three constructed streams that carry water through a number of plantings and stones and eventually into the surrounding wooded areas where it continues downhill.  The first stream runs along the side of the parking lot starting near the highway.  The stream then splits, one side continuing to flow parallel to the paved area and the other channeled under the paved area through a pipe that brings it to another constructed stream on the opposite side of the pavement.  The water runs through several hundred feet of stones and plantings until it reaches exposed bedrock and flows into the woods on the outskirts of the park. 
The pavement has runoff that flows in the opposite direction of the streams, which is collected by drains that discharge it into one of two bioretention areas located between the pavement and the playground.  Extra water not held in the rain gardens is discharged into the woods through pipes. Although there is not a lot of water quality data thus far, Holyoke conservation director Andrew Smith says “we are all very happy with the finished product…and people really seem to love the new park.”


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