MWDN: Warrant Article to save 9-11 field, need may be greater than realized

by Beth Melo on April 3, 2014

Post image for MWDN: Warrant Article to save 9-11 field, need may be greater than realized

Above: Northborough-Southborough Youth Lacrosse parent vs. U13 game on 9-11 field last spring. Voters may decide whether this is the field’s last year or funding can be sought for re-turfing. (Photo by Ric Carreras from the league’s website.)

In the fall, the Recreation Commission announced their decision to phase out use of the 9-11 Memorial Field by the end of this year. The announcement followed a failed effort to gain support from local sports to raise money or increase user fees to fund re-turfing the field.

This week, Advisory Committee member Jim Hegarty spoke to Advisory about his efforts to save the athletic field. The Metrowest Daily News covered it:

While members of the Recreation Commission said last fall they feared other turf fields in the area would swallow up users, Hegarty said he doesn’t believe that’s the case. He said many field users didn’t fully understand the predicament losing 9/11 Field would place them in, and erroneously believed there would be enough room elswhere in town.

Hegarty said after speaking with users in detail, they said they’d rather have the field up its prices than lose it altogether. He noted that, even with price increases, the field would still cost between $20 and $85 less per hour than some other area turfs.

Hegarty filed a citizen’s petition Warrant Article for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting. He is seeking voter approval to:

raise and appropriate or borrow and appropriate a sum of money for the renovation of the artificial turf field known as “9/11 Field” or do or act anything in relation thereto.

The Advisory member’s pitch is a plan to borrow money without expense to taxpayers:

Hegarty said he crunched numbers with town officials and determined that, if the town raised the user fees it charges by between $20 and $30 an hour, it would be able to take out a 15-year-loan for a new turf at “zero” cost to taxpayers.

In the past, long term loans weren’t an option, as the state lease agreements to the town are in 5 year intervals.  Hegarty believes with help from politicians, that could change:

Hegarty said the state recently entered into a 20-year lease in Watertown for a similar property – a precedent he believes works in the town’s favor.

“I think that changes the ballgame,” Hegarty said, adding state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, has said she would lobby on the town’s behalf.

For the full MWDN story, click here.

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