WILMINGTON — At the last Board of Selectmen meeting in February, Sons of Italy President John Romano presented a $50,000 check donation to the Town of Wilmington for the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility. This was the second installment of the $100,000 that the organization committed to contribute toward the building of the park and its structures.
The park at Yentile Farm Recreational Facility, located at 9 Cross St., has been open since 2017. Current Town Manager Jeff Hull explained that it was in the early 2000s when then Town Manager Michael Caira made a deal with the bank to purchase the 20-acre parcel from a developer who had planned to put in housing. Instead of bringing in more traffic to the area around Routes 38 and 129, the town turned the land into a park.
The Yentile Farm Recreational Development Committee was created to put together a design plan for the park and to hire an architect. Over the course of five years, they gained community support and saw all of the development finished.
Judy O’Connell, former committee member and former selectman, expanded upon the intensive public process that the committee went through to finish the park in public forums and feedback sessions with residents, organizations, and other elected and appointed boards.
“[The committee] had to go through Town Meeting for appropriation of the funds we needed twice during the process,” she added.
Because the committee itself could not fundraise, the Friends of 9 Cross St. was made to gather donations from the community on behalf of the park. Hull recalled that individuals were invited to sponsor bricks on the walkway for their donations.
“People could also purchase and have their name put on a bench inside the park,” he continued.
Besides the Sons of Italy, Hull shared that the park has received donations from a large number of community groups, including We’re One Wilmington and Wilmington Youth Soccer.
Thanks to town appropriation and all of the groups who donated, the nine developed acres on the property offer a large lawn area, a pavilion with picnic benches, a children’s play area, basketball courts, a turf field for soccer, lacrosse, or football, and a walking path.
“Another portion of the space wasn’t developed because it borders a meadow brook, which we consider another attractive feature of the park,” Hull said.
Wilmington Sons of Italy have donated more than $1.5 million to the town over the past 20 years, according to Romano. O’Connell went on to express profound gratitude for the total donation of the Sons of Italy.
“The Sons of Italy are one of, if not the, most generous organizations in town,” she shared. “They’ve given to this project and many other projects, organizations, people, and families in town.”
While the park is already complete, it requires regular ongoing maintenance which their final contribution could pay for.