A 35-space gravel parking lot will become Irwin Park's newest accessory, following overwhelming town approval last week for a plan that Public Works Assistant Director Tiger Mann estimates will cost between $60,000 and $65,000.

"Adding the parking lot will enhance the property," Mann said in a presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission last Tuesday evening. "Right now, people are parking haphazardly on the site. [They are] actually damaging the blacktop [and] ... especially The Great Lawn because we can't seem to regulate the way people are parking."

The new lot will be installed in the northeast quadrant of the park, to the right of the northern driveway between Weed Street and the barn. The lot, which will include granite curbs to prevent gravel scatter and two plantable islands to direct counter-clockwise traffic flow, will be partially screened around its south, east and southeast perimeters with trees and other plantings.

Greenery will help mask the view of the lot from the Weed Street, which is approximately 100 feet from the project site, Mann said.

"It wasn't the intention to screen it 100 percent from the road," Mann said. "We're mainly trying to break up the view of looking at a series of 35 cars in a lot."

The 35 parking spaces, along with the existing 22 along the horseshoe drive and the six at the main house, will inflate the total amount to parking to 63 spaces.

"The existing parking is adequate for the town offices, but during baseball games or larger sized events, we need additional parking," Mann said.

The lot will not be plowed in winter, Mann said.

The Park and Recreation Commission approved the plan in a vote of 8 to 1 last Monday and the P&Z voted unanimously to award the plan with a special permit last Tuesday.

Town Council gave the final go-ahead on the project last Wednesday in a vote of 9-2, with the added condition that Public Works members carefully assess the project's impact on drainage and adhere to the town's zero net runoff water policy.

The lot will be pervious, Mann said.

According to First Selectmen Jeb Walker, the entire park's net runoff ranks below the town's minimum drainage standard.

The parking lot will cost $55,000 to build, Mann approximates, and tree and shrub plantings included in the plan will cost an additional $5,000 to $10,000.

The Garden Club is considering pitching in to cover some of the cost for the plantings, Mann said.

Construction will last about two weeks, Mann said.

Next, the Board of Selectmen will decide whether to allow the contractor currently working on-site to take on the project or request multiple bids. The board will also decide whether the project will fit into the 2010 town budget.

"Our hope is to have it constructed before the baseball season ... [but] if we wait for the budget season, it will be July 1," Mann said.