Hatten wall repair could get costly
City officials consider entrances a priority
By Scott Bellile
Fixing the deteriorating 80-plus-year-old stone wall around Hatten Park could be unaffordable for the city, according to New London Public Services Director Chad Hoerth.
Over the years, the wall has sunk underground in some spots, like next to the tennis courts.
In other areas, the wall has broken apart, often due to vandalism. But in some cases Mother Nature has been responsible, such as a wall segment west of the Jennings Street and Cedarhurst Drive intersection, where a large tree toppled and its roots smashed the stone apart.
Hoerth wrote in a memo last month that the city’s engineer, McMahon Associates, began researching what labor and costs would be associated with repairing the wall, and “unfortunately it does not look good.”
“The general wall does not have much of a foundation under it in many spots. This allows the wall to move during the frost and freeze cycles,” Hoerth stated. “In many areas the top cap is not well and allows water to get between the stone thus pushing out the stone when it freezes.”
To prevent the wall from shifting during frost and freeze cycles, Hoerth stated the city’s best solution would be to disassemble the wall, pour a solid foundation underneath it, reassemble the stones with mortar and pour a new wall cap on top.
McMahon did not offer cost estimates but told Hoerth the city could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to disassemble and reassemble the wall.
At a Sept. 4 New London Parks and Recreation Committee meeting, Hoerth told committee members that the city has plenty of roads to repair and aging facilities to fix, so he did not know that money should be spent on restoring a park wall.
Hoerth suggested that the city prioritize repairing the two park entrances on Werner-Allen Road and Jennings Street for now.
First District Alderman Robert Besaw said he believes the whole wall is worth saving, but because of how much there is, the city should first repair the entrances and then later revisit the walls one segment at a time.
Mayor Gary Henke requested Hoerth determine what it would cost to rebuild 100-foot stretches of the wall. Then the city could budget for that amount each year and tackle one stretch per year.
Hoerth said he would ask McMahon for those cost estimates along with estimates to repair and tuckpoint the stone wall entrances.
Committee Chairman and Fourth District Alderman Rob Way asked whether the original stones would be discarded if the wall were rebuilt.
Hoerth said the wall would probably be comprised of a mix of original stones and new stones.
“We’ll just put it back together as puzzle pieces,” Hoerth said.
The city began seriously considering restoring the park wall about two years ago and budgeted money in its 2018 capital fund to carry out a survey of the wall.
The wall was probably built in 1936 when Hatten Park was constructed and opened to the public through Franklin Roosevelt’s Work Projects Administration program.