The Nov. 3 election that resulted in council President Don Leach losing his bid for a third term in office has apparently given fellow council members additional incentive to engage with residents on the controversial redevelopment of Northam Park.

The Nov. 3 election that resulted in council President Don Leach losing his bid for a third term in office has apparently given fellow council members additional incentive to engage with residents on the controversial redevelopment of Northam Park.

"We've all just taken a deep breath and realize this has to move forward at a slower pace," council Vice President Debbie Johnson said. "That's the attitude that's changed.

"There was a message that was sent Election Night."

In August, council voted 6-1 to move forward with a $14 million redesign of Northam. Councilman Mike Schadek cast the lone dissenting vote.

In approving the redesign, council left the caveat that City Manager Ted Staton must confer with the city's Field Sports Advisory Committee and a representative of the Northam Park Tennis Advisory Committee in determining where the park's clay tennis courts should be relocated.

Since then, the Northam Park Special Committee voted 7-2 with five abstentions to move 10 of the 12 clay tennis courts at Northam to Thompson Park.

That report has yet to be provided to council, and Johnson said council members expect to revisit the bulk of the Northam project after the report is formally presented to them. She added that much public discussion in open meetings is still to come.

"We need to get the recommendations of the task force and take another look at this," she said. "I think we need to be more thoughtful in how we proceed."

She and Councilman David DeCapua said last week that council members agree Tremont Pool and Northam's playground should be rebuilt and that work needs to be done to improve drainage at the park.

DeCapua also said he believes council needs to heed calls from the public to reduce the overall redevelopment's cost, and said features such as a planned promenade, gazebo and pavilion could be scrapped.

"We're working toward minimizing the plan to what we believe residents will accept while still keeping the vision of improving the park," DeCapua said. "There's consensus. At the end of the day, council recognizes the grandiose park plan is not going to move forward."

While DeCapua said the project cost will be "north of $10 million no matter how you trim it," he added the election results have reinforced the idea that council needs to be more responsive to the public's wishes.

"Don Leach's loss was a huge shock and an utter disappointment," he said. "We're not stupid. We listened. We tweaked and revised what we're doing it because it's the right thing to do."

As of last week, Johnson said she didn't have a position on whether the redevelopment's costs should be lowered.

However, Schadek does. He's also the only council member slated to return in 2016 who isn't currently facing a recall petition drive by a resident group called Save Northam Park.

"We absolutely have to scale back and spend less money," Schadek said.

He advocates "putting the brakes on" the Northam project to allow for more public discussion on how to redevelop the park.

He also said council shouldn't move Northam's tennis courts.

"The tennis courts are a $2 million asset we have," he said. "Why would we get rid of this asset that's very popular?"

While council determines how to proceed, Save Northam Park member Caroline Lahrmann said she's pleased city leaders said they'll consider decisions that reflect residents' views.

Still, Lahrmann said, she wants to see commitments that the promenade will be taken out of the Northam plan and Tremont Pool will be rebuilt in the same location.

"If they plan the pool with the promenade, they are knocking out a baseball field and a football field that don't have drainage problems, and that leads to the need to replace those fields elsewhere," Lahrmann said. "So they demolish the rest of the park to replace it.

"It's like a domino effect and it doesn't make any sense. If you put the pool back in its present location, you preserve those fields, which are dry."

Lahrmann said Save Northam Park continues to collect signatures to recall DeCapua, Johnson, John C. Adams and Kip Greenhill.

She noted the effort is being undertaken for a number of reasons, including the handling of the Northam project, a 2014 campaign to increase city income taxes that she said was misleading, and what the group believes is mismanagement of city tax dollars.

"I see (council comments) as a sign of progress," Lahrmann said. "We're always willing to talk to council. That's what this is all about.

"Right now, there are a lot of questions."