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Nashua;68.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-08-02 04:36:55
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  • Correspondent photo by June Lemen

    Shady Lane Park is a large expanse of green lushness directly in front of New Searles School and looks across at Kirkpatrick Park.
  • Correspondent photo by June Lemen

    St. Andrew’s is on Harris Road, across from Bramble Drive. It’s not particularly noticeable from the street. When you drive into the parking lot, you immediately notice the Matt Dube baseball field and field house, which actually had sandbags around one end of it.
  • Correspondent photo by June Lemen

    Kirkpatrick Park is a long park: there’s a baseball diamond (David Drescher Field), tennis courts, basketball courts, and a huge grassy space between the diamond and the courts.

    David Drescher Field
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Schooled on Ward 9

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 11th in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she explores the green spaces and parks of Nashua by ward. Today, Lemen focuses on Ward 9.

When I look at the Nashua ward map, Ward 9 looks to me like the outline of the state of New Jersey. Ward 9 is sandwiched between Ward 8 and Ward 5 and south of Ward 6. Its boundaries are the F.E. Everett Turnpike in the north, East Dunstable Road on the east, Conant Road and Northeastern Boulevard on the west and the Massachusetts border on the south. It is host to three city parks: Kirkpatrick Park, Shady Lane Park and St. Andrew’s Park

When I was looking for these parks, I asked my friend Sandy where they were. She said, “Just go to New Searles School. You can’t miss ’em.”

She was right.

To get to the first two parks, you drive down New Searles until you get to Shady Lane. I have noticed, over the course of doing this series, that parks in Nashua are named after locations or people. Shady Lane Park is named for the street it’s on – Shady Lane. As soon as you turn onto the street, you are overwhelmed by an enormous expanse of green. This is because two of Ward 9’s parks are right across the street from one another – Shady Lane and Kirkpatrick.

Shady Lane Park is a large expanse of green lushness directly in front of New Searles School. It’s a big park, and it seems to be in transition from baseball season to soccer season. The morning I took pictures was the first day of school in Nashua, and the fields had just been washed clean by Hurricane Irene. I saw a lot of Parks and Recreation Department vehicles while I was out taking pictures of parks; it was clear that they were checking for storm damage.

Shady Lane has a baseball diamond, but soccer goals stood at the ready. The grass smelled so delicious that I wanted to roll down the hill into the Irene-created puddles in the grass. I cannot tell you how big Shady Lane Park is because I am terrible at estimating distances, but it’s a big field. How wonderful it must be for the children at New Searles School to have such a huge place to play in front of the school. I know that New Searles has its own play space, but there’s nothing like a large expanse of field for running off excess schoolchild energy.

Kirkpatrick Park is a long park: There’s a baseball diamond, tennis courts, basketball courts and a huge grassy space between the diamond and the courts.

David Drescher Field, the baseball field at Kirkpatrick Park, was having its baseball diamond either resodded or edged the day I was there. It looked as if the grass had just been cut with a knife. The edges of the sod were high and sharp, and clearly this was the first step in some serious field grooming. The sand was a couple of inches lower than the sod.

Drescher Field was named in 2010 after Dave Drescher, a man who coached Nashua South Cal Ripken baseball for 30 years. It’s a nice diamond, and the park would be a great place to watch a game: There’s plenty of parking, and a grassy space between Drescher Field and the tennis courts on the other end hosts a play area for small children.

Shady Lane is clearly a great haunt for walkers. I lost count of the number of people taking what was clearly their morning constitutional on the street. There were couples and singles and lots of people moving to their iPods. Everybody was enjoying the gorgeous weather and the sound of the kids playing at New Searles School.

Around the corner – sort of – from these two parks is the third park in Ward 9, St. Andrew’s Playground. St. Andrew’s is on Harris Road, across from Bramble Drive.

I have driven by St. Andrew’s many times and never noticed that next to its baseball field is a play area tucked into the pines. It’s not particularly noticeable from the street. When you drive into the parking lot, you immediately notice the Matt Dube baseball field and field house, which actually had sandbags around one end of it. The field house is named in honor of Matt Dube, a 10-year-old Nashua boy who died after a heroic eight year battle with leukemia. He was loved by many, and the field named for him is well-maintained.

The little play area beside it made me feel like I was back in summer camp. There was a long metal slide covered with rapidly evaporating dewdrops, a metal climbing structure shaped like an old-fashioned Jell-O mold and swings, all slipped between the trees. The scent of pine was everywhere. I wish I had known about this park when Lucy was smaller.

The only thing that puzzled me about this park was its name: why is it St. Andrew’s Park? Is it the site of a former church? I’m sure a good citizen of Nashua will enlighten me.

I have enjoyed visiting all of our city’s parks, and I hope you did, too. Next week I’ll complete this series by focusing on the future of Nashua’s parks.