Recreation Commission to end use of 9-11 field

by beth on November 15, 2013

Post image for Recreation Commission to end use of 9-11 field

Above: 9-11 Memorial Field. (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

At this week’s Recreation Commission, board members discussed the fate of Southborough’s 9/11 athletic field. The board voted to stop supporting the use of the field with a phase out by the end of 2014.

Commission Chair Joseph Laning submitted a letter to the town on Wednesday announcing the decision. (It’s posted below right, click to enlarge.)

According to the Recreation Department, the artificial turf is worn out. Last fall, Department Director Doreen Ferguson told selectmen that replacing the turf would add 10 years of life to the field.

The etimated expense at the time was up to $500,000. Selectmen rejected asking residents to approve town funding.

In the spring, the Recreation Department announced they were kicking off a project to raise funds for the work.

The Metrowest Daily News covered the meeting where the decision to end field use was made.

According to their article, a local company offered to install the turf for free. That would have reduced the expense to $200,000. But the commission still couldn’t find enough support to raise the necessary funds.

MWDN reports:

[Commission Chairman Joseph Laning] said the Commission tried all avenues, including grants, but wasn’t able to gain momentum for fundraising or get the sense that revenues from future field use charges would support taking out a loan.

Part of the challenge, he said, is that the project is on state-owned land, and the state would not permit advertising on the field. He said the town is also barred from lighting the field, which cuts down on use.

Click here to read MWDN’s full article.

1 Ben November 17, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Unfortunately; this is was poor use of funds.
In speaking with many people about this field from it’s first inception though noble as a memorial was not best thought out way to spend the money on a field; “that’s out the way”.
Had better foresight/leadership been in place the people spending the money on this idea would of known,should of known that the astro turf would need to be replaced sooner than later.
At a cost the towns people couldn’t clearly afford.

Seems we the voters get a sugar coated pill that turns into an ulcer.

This is just one fiasco as the elevator at South Union School was another money pit.

2 Annette Flaherty November 18, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Wow, I wish there was some other way- what a waste. I drive by 9-11 field daily and it seems like a useful asset that has active use. What is the town’s responsibility to dismantle what is there if they shut it down? I can’t imagine that the town could just abandon this field outright to become an eyesore.

There is a also huge demand for turf fields in the area so it is a shame that there is no way to make something work with some other organization. The lack of lights must be the biggest barrier. There was nowhere in town Southborough could have put in a turf field with lights? Such a pity to see this come full circle in just over a decade.

3 Joe Kacevich November 18, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Ben,

9-11 Memorial Field did not cost the Southborough taxpayers a penny. It was made possible through a $200Kgrant from the State, which paid for the turf. The site work, fencing, parking lot, etc., were all donated by local contractors. The 2 monuments were made possible by funds donated by the Algonquin General Boosters Club and the Southborough Rotary Club.,respectively.Over the past 11 years, this field hosted thousands of practices and games, thus alleviating the stress on Southborough grass fields. It also hosted hundreds of Algonquin football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey games, especially during the add/ren years when the only Algonqun field avaialble was the Football Stadium Field.
This was hardly a fiasco.The former Director of the Massachusetts State Parks System once referred to 9/11 Memorial Field as” the best example of a state/town/business partnership in the State of Massachusetts.”It was built during a time when the Southborough K-8 School System was the third-fastest growing system in the state and there was a decided lack of playing fields in town to meet the needs of that population.

I only wish that Beth would publish the speech made on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, held at the field. Hopefully, you will then understand all the work that went into the creation of this field and what it once stood for.

Joe Kacevich
Former Chairman
Southborough Recreation Facilities Committee, ad hoc

4 SB Resident November 19, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Thanks for the clarification Joe. The field has served us well, but what I don’t agree with is not taking out the loan to resurface the field.

It seems with free install we are getting quite the bargain at 20K (+interest costs) per year to have the field available to us. That is about $10 per household per year to have the field. Community resources such as this are vital in creating a desirable community and for that cost versus many of the other costs we pay, it seems like a no brainer to me. :-(

5 Annette Flaherty November 19, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Thanks for the additional comments by Joe and SB Resident. I understand after speaking with Doreen Ferguson that the recreation department reached out to different organizations to request contributions towards replacing the artificial turf. There was also a request made for a fundraising initiative but no one stepped up. With requirements to rest grass fields and the limited field availability in town, losing 9-11 field would impact already constrained practice and game capacity in Southborough. Currently I notice a rotating schedule of soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and football. Where can those many hours of use currently scheduled on 9-11 be replaced? Artificial turf is a wonderful playing surface that does not need mowing. It can be utilized following even heavy rain, minimizing cancellations. I hope that a prudent solution to maintaining this wonderful town resource can be found.

6 User Fees Rental Fees November 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM

My boys have used these fields for years playing for NSYLA and it certainly was a great opportunity using such a nice field. I imagine NYSLA and other organizations paid user fees or rental fees. Who received the money and was any put aside for future replacement of the turf? Ten plus years of fees surely would have minimized the costs now.

7 Another SB resident November 19, 2013 at 7:32 PM

I drive by this field everyday. It is such a beautiful space in a beautiful setting. It is such a shame to lose it within such a short period of time, especially when there is a great need for fields in Southborough. Why can’t it be converted to a grass field?

8 Ben November 20, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Joe Kacevich: That’s great what you’ve mentioned; however you’ve missed my point.
the day would arise that there’d be an issue with funds well that’s today.
Clearly spend it while you got it doesn’t make much sense just because the schools grew so fast and now we have an almost empty school”Neary” .

There should of been some form of fee to play on this field to maintain it and forethought that the day would arise for replacement.

Maybe it should of cost the taxpayers a penny then there would of been monies to pay for the renewal?
CPA for example.

9 Joe Kacevich November 20, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Ben

The user fees have been accumulating over the years. There was a “plan.” The Southborough Recreation Department apparently polled the various user groups, as to whether or not they would continue to use (pay user fees).9/11 Memorial Field. Apparently, they are not. St. Mark’s has a turf field. Algonquin is planning on one, as is Fay School. This was the part of the puzzle that was unforeseen 11 year ago, Ben,…that other turf fields might be built in our area and “compete” with 9/11.

If the user groups prefer to rent other turf fields, than the Recreation Department is reluctant to floata bond to pay for the new turf. The user fees would then be used to pay for the bond; so if there is no income ( doubtful in my mind) then how are they to pay off the bond? That is the argument, as I understand it.

All I know is this: I work for one of the premier companies in the synthetic turf industry ( 1500 fields installed world-wide). We offered the town an incredible discount on the turf. One of the best inistallation companies in the country offered to install it , pro bono, because they understand what the field stands for.

Neighboring towns raise anywhere between $800K and $1M for a new turf field. Did you read the article in yesterday’s MetrowestDaily News about the Medway project? They passed $280K+ just for design fees. Mike Sullivan of Southborough completed the design work for 9/11 pro bono as his contribution to the project.We gave the town and the surrounding community a field for free. And we can’t mange to make this work?

CPA funds may not be used to purchase synthetic turf, by law.

You can post anonymously and criticize all you want, but this was an incredible project, well worth preserving. I just wonder how hard our local and state officials…the same ones who participated in the wonderful 10 Year Anniversary ceremony held at the Field…worked to preserve it.

Joe Kacevich

10 Ben November 22, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Joe:
Clearly what you mentioned makes sense. Then again not deciding to keep the field after all this time doesn’t .

If they made the decision to build the field then my argument is there should of been some management to keep it going.
The way it is now they spent the money and thank you we’re closing the field.

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