Wysocki Park Plans Call for More Children’s Activities, Play Equipment

Walter A. “Budger” Wysocki Park. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A serene view of the Walter A. “Budger” Wysocki Park between Curtis and Tremont Streets. (WHAV News photograph.)

The Walter A. Wysocki memorial in the center of the park. (WHAV News photograph.)

The Walter A. Wysocki memorial in the center of the park. (WHAV News photograph.)

Mount Washington’s Walter A. “Budger” Wysocki Park could soon be converted from passive recreation to an active children’s park with swings, modern seesaws, a jungle gym and more.

That’s the vision of Wysocki’s son, Bob, and Thomas White—one of 70,000 children who called the Haverhill Boys Club home. Wysocki and White met Thursday with David S. Van Dam, Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s chief of staff, to discuss possible upgrades. White explained the plan.

“We always wanted it to be a place for the kids to come to play because Walter was so dedicated to the children of Haverhill. We wanted the park dedicated to him to have the kids come there and use it as often as possible,” he told WHAV.

When the park was rededicated last year, Fiorentini expressed interested in having more places for children to play. Wysocki and White plan to have a professional design of the park, bounded by Curtis, Tremont and Central Streets and Park Avenue. Van Dam confirmed there may be federal Community Development Block Grants and other money to make the project a reality.

For White, now of Merrimac, the project carrying on Wysocki’s vision is personal.

“I just know that all he did for the community. I grew up on going to the Boys Club camp—Camp Tasker—up in Newton, N.H. He did a lot for the kids of Haverhill.”

Wysocki Park was first named 17 years ago with the support of former Mayor James A. Rurak and the City Council. The site was selected because it was near Wysocki’s childhood home on Arch Street.

William and Walter Wysocki play ball as part of the Polish Young Men’s Association in 1929.

William and Walter Wysocki play ball as part of the Polish Young Men’s Association in 1929.

“We got that park dedicated to Walter Wysocki, who headed up the Boys Club for 57 years here in Haverhill. He’s got the longest tenure of anybody with the Boys Clubs in the history of the country.”

The park was originally refurbished with money donated by William Cavallaro, founder of the former Camelot Systems. A monument was installed and a flag pole, benches, picnic tables and trash receptacles were placed. At first, however, it was subject to vandalism, White said. He said there were frequent calls to Christopher Goudreault of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department to bring in teams and equipment to clear graffiti. Then, he added, the city administration and Haverhill Police instituted a curfew, installed a camera and began patrolling it more frequently. There have been no incidents in the last few years.

“The city has taken some steps and the vandalism has really been curbed,” he said.

Mount Washington Park Once Center of ‘Ritzy’ Neighborhood

Interestingly, the former Washington Street Park was, more than a hundred years ago, to be the centerpiece of a fashionable neighborhood, White explained.

“A group of developers from Boston wanted to make that like a high rent—I shouldn’t say high rent, but high dollar—development. They were trying to attract people from Boston—since the train came up through here—they were trying to attract people from Boston to move up here and advertise this as a ritzy section of town.”

The park was to be the Silver Hill Aqueduct to provide well water for the development.