Last night, the Recreation Commission voted to ask Selectmen to bring back their $267,400 Kallander Field project to voters next month. The Commission also decided to do more research before determining how to handle the skate park located at Finn School. (Scroll down for more on that.)
The Warrant is open for a Special Town Meeting scheduled for May 22nd. The meeting was prompted by Citizen Petitions. But as I shared last week, the Board of Selectmen are open to considering other Articles. At the time, I noted that Recreation projects that failed at Annual Town Meeting were unlikely to make the cut. But the Recreation Commission is hoping one of them will.
Last week, Town Administrator Mark Purple stated that selectmen were against adding Articles that have a financial impact. But he clarified that they didn’t vote on that.
It would be the second Article on the Warrant that failed at Annual Town Meeting earlier this month. But while the zoning appeal process failed by two votes on a sparsely attended night, Kallander failed by a larger margin on a fairly well attended night. The majority of voters approved the spend (126 to 87). But 2/3 approval was required since funding relies on borrowing.*
I followed up with Recreation Director Doreen Ferguson to find out what the Commission’s plan is for a new outcome this time around. Members are planning to research the issues raised at ATM. The hope is to have answers that address voters concerns. If they are unable to do that by the night of the meeting, they would pull the Article.
If you aren’t familiar with the project – Kallander Field is a recreation field, used mainly for youth soccer and lacrosse, that is purportedly in verging-on–unsafe condition. Recreation is seeking to fix drainage issues and the field itself. The Town has pointed to breakdowns in the drainage system that was installed around the field.
But some opponents object to the main source of the water. Town officials state that water was always expected to come downhill from Carriage Hill. At Town Meeting, opponents argued that unmaintained drainage basins have made the problem much worse than it should be. They called for forcing the development’s homeowner association to fix/clean out their basins before voters invest tax dollars.
For more on the project, see past coverage:
- Click here for a recap of the debate at Town Meeting
- Click here for previous coverage of the Recreation’s presentations on the projects.
- Click here for videos of two pre-ATM Rec forums that included the project, and here for the presentation used at the most recent one.
It’s worth noting that Kallander wasn’t the only Rec project that failed at ATM. A proposed $200K project to fund design of a potentially $2M turf field project at Neary was also clearly rejected. Rec will not be bringing that back to voters in May.
About a week and a half ago, Recreation sent out a survey to residents. The focus was the skate park that is set up on one of the Tennis Courts at Finn. They wanted to learn how much it is used by residents and whether they wanted to see it fixed up or reverted back to a tennis court.
At last night’s meeting, the Commission discussed the findings. According to Ferguson, survey results indicated people use the skate park for other things:
The Commission received additional feedback on what else the court could be used for (ie back to a tennis court, basketball court and/or hockey). The Commission would like to investigate these options before making a final decision on what will happen.
*Passing the Kallander Field Article would have required 16 voters to changed their minds. And in case you’re wondering if voters who left right before the headcount could have made the difference – the answer is no.
On the night of the vote, there was a 30 second delay between Moderator Paul Cimino calling the vote as failed and residents asking for a head count. Someone objected that some people left the room in between. More voters would have upped the total number of votes needed to reach the 2/3. My math shows 43 more voters, all in favor, would have been needed to meet the threshhold. And there wasn’t that kind of mass exodus.