9-11 Field (finally) getting new lease on life

by beth on June 9, 2017

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Above: A long time obstacle finally removed from efforts to re-turf 9-11 Memorial Field. (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

An important step – that’s been a long time coming – in returfing 9-11 field was met this week. Mass Department of Conservation and Southborough officials agreed on a 15 year lease on the field. Selectmen unanimously approved the lease on Tuesday night.

Southborough Wicked Local covered that vote here.

With the lease in place, the Town can get the ball rolling to secure financing, seek engineering plans, and take next steps on construction.*

According to Southborough Wicked Local, Public Works head Karen Galligan hopes construction can begin in October. But it wouldn’t be the first Town Rec project to get pushed much further out than originally hoped. (For instance, the lights at Choate Field.)

I thought the biggest hurdle to the project was cleared 16 months ago. At that time, news came in that state legislators voted to approve allowing the long term lease. Of course, the actual lease had to be resolved with MassDOR. And surprisingly (at least to me), that took until now to finalize.

Still, the real hurdle has finally, really been cleared. And that’s worth celebrating. Especially given how long it’s taken to get here. 

As many readers know, 9-11 field in Southborough has been badly in need of re-turfing for years. The state of the field, and apparent lack of financing options to replace the turf, actually led Southborough Recreation to announce in 2013 that the field would be permanently closed by the end of 2014.

The announcement pushed supporters of Lacrosse to take action on plans to finance returfing. The major obstacle was MassDOR’s restriction that the Town could only lease the field for a few years at a time. Without a long term lease, the Town was restricted to short-term financing for the project at too high a cost.

Jim Hegarty led a charge to change that. According to his research the state had made exceptions for some other properties. He organized Town officials and our state legislators to lobby for a long term lease to 9-11 field.

Southborough voters were told that with a longer term bond, returfing costs would be covered by user fees. Voters passed articles at both 2014 and 2015 Town Meetings supporting the effort. And many residents responded to the call to send personal letters to state legislators urging them to approve the long term lease.

Congratulations to Hegarty and to all of the Town employees, Town officials and our State Rep and Senator who helped make this happen.

*I’m presuming it will also need approvals from Town boards like the Conservation Commission and Planning Board prior to the work.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Southernbreeze June 12, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Thank you to all of the people that made this happen. I know that it was a bunch of work and dealing with the politicians and the bureaucracy is always a challenge. Thanks to your hard work, we will continue to have a wonderful all weather facility for soccer, lacrosse and football for many years to come.

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