New recreational facilities are a gift that will keep on giving
Resident builds park for town with Bobcat excavator and compact loader
John Whalley's dream of turning a 70-acre parcel of land into a park is about to come true. When it does, it will be a testimonial to his dedication in helping his community and his determination to take charge to get things accomplished.
Located in Southwick, Mass., the park, which is scheduled to open later this year, will include seven athletic fields, playscapes, pavilion, concession stand and nature trails. About 40 acres will remain permanently protected park land.
"My initial idea was to purchase the property and donate it to the town," says Whalley, who knew that the possibility of condos being built on the site was likely. "But with the way the economy was going, I figured the town would not have the resources to do anything with the land and it would sit there. So I decided to develop the park myself."
Whalley Park Plan
Whalley hired Crestview Construction, Inc. to clear and grade the land and even brought out his own Bobcat® equipment to work around the property.
Gets things done with Bobcat equipment
A former high school math and science teacher who became an early user of computers in the classroom, Whalley started his own company in 1979. Today Whalley Computer Associates is one of the largest computer resellers in the United States. Along the way an unlikely event introduced him to Bobcat equipment.
John Whalley's son-in-law, Ryan Whalley, is shown here operating the M-Series E45 excavator at the future park site.
"We hired a company to maintain our parking lot in the winter," he recalls. "Getting them to clean up the leftover sand turned into a hassle every spring. They were always busy. I live on a farm and had borrowed someone's Bobcat loader to put in a couple miles of fence. I saw Bobcat had a sweeper attachment — just the answer to my parking lot dilemma. So I purchased a T190 compact track loader and sweeper attachment from Bobcat of Greater Springfield. It did great, both at the company and on the farm. I didn't have to wait for jobs to get done or borrow a loader."
When Whalley began developing the park, he borrowed a Bobcat excavator from Crestview Construction to do some soil testing.
"It worked so well that I decided to buy my own," he says. "At first I tried an E35 for a project on my farm — digging a 4-foot-deep, 300-foot-long utility trench. Someone told me it would take four hours. I actually dug 500 feet in less than two hours."
Deciding he wanted a heavier machine, Whalley purchased an E45.
"It's an outstanding excavator," he says, noting all the M-Series improvements that make it so comfortable to operate.
Today Whalley moves his Bobcat System — loader and excavator — around on a trailer, using the equipment on his farm, at his company and at the park putting in water and electrical lines.
"This equipment is a pleasure to operate and now I don't have to depend on others," he says. "Plus I get the satisfaction of doing some of this work myself."
The day Whalley turns the $8 million park over to the town will be even more satisfying. It is dedicated to the memory of his son, John, who died four years ago.
"He loved the outdoors and grew up around the town's recreation center, as have my 12 grandchildren," Whalley says. "Now these facilities will be available for everyone to enjoy."