Friday, May 19, 2006
Banta-Davis planning still on track
Although narrowly rebuffed by the voters on May 9, the Recreation Commission has signaled its determination to proceed with planning for more athletic fields at Banta-Davis. Two days after its setback at the polls, site engineer Dale Harris submitted aerial photographs, maps of the proposed facilities and detailed drainage specifications to the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) for their approval. (See also editorial on page 2 for more details.)
Since ConsCom had already accepted delineation of on-site wetlands, and thus their areas of jurisdiction, in earlier phases of the project, the commissioners concentrated on the layout of the fields, access routes and parking spaces. They praised the quality of that documentation, but set aside in-depth consideration of the drainage and storm water management infrastructure for their next meeting.
As approved at the May 1 Town Meeting, the plans showed existing fields, two new Little League facilities, one multi-purpose field, four tennis courts and a parking area for 200 cars. Drainage facilities included catch basins to take storm water directly off paved areas and eventually off-site, and detention/retention basins that allow water to flow into large structures. There, particles can settle on the bottom leaving clear water above, which is allowed to run off slowly and recharge groundwater.
Harris turned almost immediately to a discussion of playing surfaces to be used on the new fields. All fields would have natural grass covering except one, for which the Recreation Commission is recommending artificial turf. This controversial feature would add $575,600 to the $ 1,466,000 overall cost of the project as originally proposed and was the subject of most of ConsCom's questions and comments.
Fielding queries about the rationale behind this last-minute request, and given the official concerns of his audience, he stressed the environmental advantages, namely that the water coming off the fields would be cleaner and there would be no need for fertilizers or pesticides to contaminate runoff and leach into groundwater. He added that these qualities also cut down on maintenance costs, since the fields will require no seasonal upkeep and no mowing. They drain so quickly as to be usable in early spring and immediately after a storm. The only maintenance involves periodical use of a lawnmower-like tool that fluffs up the artificial green fibers. However, Harris admitted that there is a great deal of work in setting up the sub-surface drainage system that includes a nine-inch large-stone base, topped by a two- inch fine-stone layer, plus grass swales around the perimeter.
Commissioner Tricia Smith was the first to question the extent of the ultra-sophisticated drainage system. She was followed by Commissioner John Lee who asked, "How realistic is the requirement that a field be used 24/7 by kids. You have said the soils there perc well. Can't the use problem be solved without this special turf — perhaps by an overlay drainage system under the field?" The idea was seconded by Smith, who noted that this approach would also cut down on grading around the site. In any event, she advised Harris to look for possible cost tradeoffs before he returned in two weeks.
All agreed that the complexity of the storm water management plan for the site as a whole necessitated a break to allow the commissioners to study it in detail. The hearing was continued to 8:30 p.m. on May 25.
© 2006 The