Letter: Support needed again for 9/11 field (Warrant Article 25)

[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to mysouthborough@gmail.com.]

To the Editor:

At last year’s Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly approved the warrant article we submitted as a Citizen’s Petition to save the 9/11 Memorial Field. We need your support again this year to support Article 25 at Town Meeting on Monday April 13.

Here’s a summary of the article from the warrant:

“This home-rule petition would improve upon the current permit that the Town has under the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for the use of 9-11 Field. It would increase the term of the agreement with DCR from five years to fifteen years. Approval of this article by Town Meeting, and the State Legislature, would allow the Town to be able to fund a bond for new field turf entirely out of fees generated from the use of 9-11 Field.”

Last year, the Recreation Commission, the Advisory Committee and the Board of Selectmen all supported the plan I submitted detailing how increased user fees at 9/11 over the next 15 years would more than cover the cost of a 15 year bond for the roughly $600,000 to $650,000 needed to replace the turf which is wearing out. (The expected life of a new field is more than 15 years.) The key point is we need the state to give us at least a 15 year lease so we can get a 15 year bond. DCR’s policy is to only grant 5 year licenses.

Last summer, I attended a meeting at the State House with John Rooney, Dan Kolenda, Mark Purple, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, Sen, Jamie Eldridge, 3 people from DCR, and 2 others from the state government. DCR held fast to their policy of not granting a lease in excess of 5 years. It would take a long time to try to explain all of the rationale behind DCR’s decision, and I honestly still don’t understand all of it.

Rep. Carolyn Dykema came up with the idea of a Home-Rule-Petition to force the state to grant a 15 year lease. If we pass article 25 at Town Meeting, the advantage of a Home-Rule-Petition means DCR can’t try to delay this by getting some state committee to hold the article in committee thereby preventing a vote. A Home-Rule-Petition must be voted on by the State Legislature. When the Legislature approves the Petition, the state would be forced to give Southborough a 15 year lease so we can get a 15 year bond. We’d replace the turf in the fall of 2016, and the kids would continue to have a great place to play sports.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ in that last paragraph but the most important word in this entire letter is YOU. We need YOU to come to Town Meeting on Monday April 13 and vote to approve warrant article # 25. We need YOU to send a strong message to next year’s Board of Selectmen that you want this field retained for the kids in Southborough.

If we lose 9/11 Memorial Field, we simply have no other place in town for the kids to play.

Please come to the Town Meeting on Monday April 13 and vote to support Article 25. My guess is this article will not come up for discussion until 9 pm.

Please call me at (774) 232-2332 is you have any questions.

Thank you!

Jim Hegarty
(Writing as a resident, and not as representative of the Advisory Committee)

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