Learn about Recreation’s field (and track) projects – March 26

Above: Plans highlight areas of Town property in need of repair for Town Recreation. These are three of the projects voters will be asked to address in April (images cropped from Rec plans)

In April, Recreation will ask Southborough voters to fund over $1M for projects. The community is invited to learn more about Recreation’s planned projects at a forum in two weeks.

At a forum on March 26, 7:00 pm at the Senior Center, the community can hear an “informal presentation” and ask questions. In preparation, Rec has issued an explanatory statement with links to materials. Questions on the projects may be emailed in advance. (For more details, scroll down)*

The Recreation Commission previewed their needs to the Board of Selectmen last fall. Last week, they returned with a presentation on their Warrant Articles.

The Commission is pushing that repairs and projects are needed to avoid unsafe fields and bigger expenses. The Commission told selectmen that high demand for playing fields has led to overuse and deterioration of the Town properties.

The Warrant for the April 9th Annual Town Meeting will include three Articles put forward by Rec:

  • Repairs to two playing fields and the Town’s running track – $744,300 (Depietri Field – $197,400, Kallander Field – $267,400, and Trottier School track – $279,500)
  • New turf field – design and permit stage for a turf field at Neary School – $200,000 (Rec sees one turf field as replacing two grass fields, since playing time on it can be more than double)
  • Repairs to Lundblad field – design & speciality consultant – $75,000 (The field was built over a landfill and the membrane has started to be exposed, so specialized consultation is needed)

(For more details on each article, click thumbnails below.)

2018 ATM Article 16 details from Rec presentation 2018 ATM Article 17 details from Rec presentation 2018 ATM Article 18 details from Rec presentation

At last week’s meeting, two residents questioned the Commission. Louise Barron argued that the Town shouldn’t be looking to spend so much money to replace what Rec termed “usable” fields. Betsy Rosenbloom said that she walks the Trottier track and didn’t notice issues. She asked if running on it was considered dangerous.

Commission members responded they are trying to repair problems at each before they reach “unusable” or unsafe status. That would prompt field/track closings.

Last fall, youth sports advocates claimed that the Town has been putting band aids on problems that need deeper fixes. They described Southborough as on the verge of having unsafe fields. (You can read more about that in my December post.)

Breaking up their asks into three articles reduces Rec’s risk of voters rejecting all of the projects. Residents could opt to fund just one or two of the requests. (They could also opt to amend articles to lower the amount of funding.) But, the commission has pitched the need to get moving on all three in FY2019.

Rec’s presentation pitches:

This is the first phase of a multi-year effort to improve Southborough’s fields and facilities, to ensure that field quality can be sustained and to meet the needs of our community. Delaying this investment further is just pushing off an inevitable cost and potentially increasing it as conditions worsen. . .

the DPW is meeting recommended field maintenance guidelines, but the inability to rest fields has impacted their quality over time.

Selectmen and Advisory members have expressed upset that the commission surprised them this fall with a new plan that greatly exceeded the prior year’s long term forecast. Last week, Commission Chair Kristin Lavault again explained the change.

Recreation commissioned a study of fields status and needs. The findings that came back showed them that projects were needed. Rec couldn’t get projects into the Town’s Capital Plan queue for this year. (Town Administrator Mark Purple said that would have meant preempting other needed projects in the queue.) Members decided that the role of their commission was to advocate for Recreation. So, they chose to bring their projects directly to voters and let them decide what to support.

At last weeks, meeting the Commission didn’t have Rec’s Department head or their engineering consultant on hand. Without them there were a few questions raised that they couldn’t fully answer. Hopefully these will be addressed on the 26th.

Advisory member Doriann Jasinski said that a resident emailed her photos of rain running down to Kallander field from the Carriage Hill property up the hill. She said that she was told its an ongoing issue. She wondered how that would be addressed and if those issues are the responsibility of the Carriage Hill developer.

BOS Chair Dan Kolenda wondered about installing a turf field at Neary for use by youth soccer. He recalled hearing in the past that it was considered less safe for soccer players.

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf asked about the situation with Fay School’s turf field. Southborough Youth Soccer is supporting Rec’s need for fields. But Phaneuf recalled that the group previously advocated for a Fay School project that included a turf field being build for them at their playing fields off of route 85 (via Marlborough).

In 2015 the site plan was approved by the Planning Board and appealed to the ZBA by neighbors. That December, the ZBA ruled to uphold the approval. A rep from SYS told Phaneuf that he believed the project ran into issues with neighbors and that the lease had expired.

*Below is the announcement/invitation emailed by Southborough Recreation today:

In 2017, the Recreation Commission worked with Pare Corporation and Birchwood Design Group to complete a Facilities Master Study. A facilities study is a key factor in recreation capital planning, and Southborough had not completed one since 1999.

Since the study’s completion, the Recreation Commission has used the findings to guide the creation of a Master Plan with a focus on 5 key objectives.

  1. Ensure safe and quality conditions across all facilities used for sports and recreation
  2. Move into a regular maintenance cycle: Restore fields and provide the ability to rest and maintain them properly
  3. Alleviate congested schedules and provide more playing time across user groups
  4. Recognize and adapt to cultural changes to better support working parents and extended work hours
  5. Maximize the use of Southborough’s current recreation footprint in an effort to mitigate future needs and costs related to acquisition of new property

The study presents many possible projects to consider in the future, but there are some that the Commission feels are critical to move forward on now to meet the immediate needs of our community. These include repairs to our existing facilities and expansion efforts to add field time helping in our ability to meet current and future demand. The Commission has created a plan to address these projects, which was discussed at a recent Board of Selectman’s meeting and will be presented in the form of 3 articles inApril’s Town Meeting.

You can view the BOS presentation and the output of the study on Southborough Recreation’s website or by using these links:

Over the coming weeks the Commission will be sharing more detail on the plan, and invite you to join uson Monday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Center for an informal presentation and Q&A session. In the meantime we welcome your questions and comments. They can be posted to Southborough Recreation’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/southboroughrec/ or emailed to Doreen Ferguson at dferguson@southboroughma.com.

We look forward to sharing more and to continuing to enhance and encourage recreation in our community!

Southborough Recreation Commission

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