Benches, swing set gone

Georgetown has discontinued its decades-long lease of Bedford Park from Georgetown Presbyterian Church.

The town primarily used the park for its summer concert series, which has been moved to the Marvel Museum, at the other end of Bedford Street.

Parking had become a problem due to the large number of people attending the concerts, said Mayor Bill West.

“People were walking from two blocks out, handicapped people,” West said.

More parking is available at the Marvel Museum including handicapped parking, he said.

According to town manager Eugene Dvornick, Georgetown has been in an agreement with the church about the park since the 1970s. The park had been leased for $1 per year, with maintenance responsibilities falling on the town.

The town paid the church $5,600 to discontinue the lease early, in March 2019.

“We had some money put aside in our general fund. It wasn’t allocated for anything in particular,” said West. “It was unsafe for people to have to park and walk along the streets and then return at nine o’clock at night. We saw there were some safety problems and we wanted for people to feel safer, where we had more lighting”

Georgetown Presbyterian Church is between pastors. Longtime pastor Michael Williams retired earlier this year. Interim pastor Gerald Egger is serving for six months.

Various equipment, including multiple benches, trash cans and a swing set, was recently removed from the park by the town.

“The safest thing to do was to remove all the equipment, for liability issues,” Egger said.

The benches specifically were removed, he said, due to vagrancy concerns that had caused his staff to feel anxious.

The park remains open to the public, but the church will no longer host events like fairs and rallies there.

Georgetown Presbyterian will continue to run its Code Purple homeless shelter this year.