Frank J. Szot Memorial Park Master Plan Project

Frank J. Szot Memorial Park Master Plan Project - (click here for project site)

In partnership with Ray Dunetz Landscape Architecture [RDLA], the City of Chicopee has launched a project to develop a Master Plan for Frank J. Szot Memorial Park.  RDLA and its team are preparing a Master Plan, which is a report providing a comprehensive, long-range strategy for the improvement and maintenance of Szot Park.  This will provide the City a road map for future design and construction projects that will take place over many years, depending on funding.  


Why is a Master Plan needed?  

While some improvements have been made to Szot Park over the years, a comprehensive Master Plan has not been developed for generations, and the park is showing its age. Some features such as the stadium, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, sidewalks and walkways, to name a few are in need of repairs, and in some cases replacement. But before any improvements are planned, we need to have a Master Plan.


Who is RDLA and its team?

Since 2002, Ray Dunetz Landscape Architecture [RDLA] has developed a planning process to envision, design, and plan contemplative and functional passive and active recreation landscapes that engage the historical, cultural and ecological contexts of each project. Our studio respects the past, considers contemporary experience and looks to the future. In addition to our qualifications for this project, we are devoted to our clients and the community as partners in a thoughtful and creative planning process. We understand the economic realities facing Gateway Cities in Massachusetts. RDLA has been privileged to have worked on many similar park planning projects in sister Gateway Cities including Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lynn, New Bedford, Quincy, Salem, Taunton, and Worcester.  


What will the team do?

RDLA will lead the project with their expertise in park master planning, community engagement, designing publicly bid passive and active recreational parks, restoring historic parks, memorials, fountains, nature trails, boardwalks, playgrounds, spray pads, picnic areas and wayfinding signage.  

RDLA and its team members will also assess and design improvements to:

  • Park Entrances
  • Pedestrian Paths
  • Passive recreation (e.g., nature trails) opportunities
  • Playing fields and courts
  • Fencing
  • Natural Drainage Systems
  • Parking
  • Vehicular Access
  • Utilities
  • Lighting
  • Buildings and structures

Other team members will also assess the invasive species and urban forestry in the park and provide recommendations to remove (invasives) and enhance (urban forestry).


What is the timeframe?

RDLA and the City kicked off the project in July with a review session and site walk.  The combined team spent an entire day discussing the history of the park, known issues, and the potential for the park.   They also walked the entire site to view the current conditions of the park.  

The project will progress as shown below:

The final Master Plan report will be issued by early 2024.


When will we see actual improvements?

The Master Plan will provide the framework for future improvements to Szot Park.  After the Master Plan has been approved, each improvement needs to be designed and constructed.  This can sometimes take a while as each detail needs to be considered during the design process.  Funding for each project needs to be approved by the City, a contractor needs to be selected for the project, then the contractor needs to do the work.  While there is no hard rule on when improvements may be made, it is often years (or even decades!) for Master Plans to be fully implemented.  And, there are times when the entire time Master Plans do not get fully built, due to changing needs.  


How can we add our voice?

To start, you can provide input to a Community Input Survey.  This will help inform the designers as to what you want in your park!   


Who do we contact if we have questions?

You can contact the Planning Department at: (413) 594-1515.