Friday, August 4, 2006
CCHS may get 3 new playing fields
At the July 11 Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) meeting, representatives from Concord's town government and Concord's Recreation Department presented a plan for building three new playing fields on high school grounds. Carlisle may be asked to share the cost of the fields, but first the RSC must decide whether the proposed location will be out of the way of any future school expansion. RSC member Peter Fischelis said, "We are in desperate need of fields."
The three all-purpose playing fields would be built on the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) land at the top of the hill behind the high school, near the railroad tracks and Route 2. Two of those fields would have artificial turf. That land would have to be cleared and a road and a parking lot would have to be laid out. The proposed road would go around the bus depot behind the high school and around the existing tennis courts. The estimate to prepare the site is $750,000.
Concerns were raised about exactly where a new high school might be built. The feasibility study done last year placed it into the hillside, but one option was to place the school exactly where the proposed new fields will be. Presenters were looking for assurances that the placement of the new road, the fields and the parking lot to support those fields would not be in the way of a new school. Also, if the new school were to be put high on the hill where the proposed fields are expected to go, there may be other cheaper options for the location of the new fields. The RSC is expected to deliver a formal recommendation on a new high school this fall.
The three fields are part of a larger plan to build a total of six new playing fields in Concord. The proposal includes artificial turf on two of the all-purpose fields and one of the baseball diamonds and lights on one of the baseball diamonds and one of the all-purpose fields. The price tag for the fields at CCHS) is $3.5 to $3.6 million, while the cost of the entire six fields is in the $5.1 to $5.4 million range.
Dekkers Davidson, who represented coaches of travel soccer, in-town soccer, flag football, Pop Warner Football, lacrosse and baseball said, "2500 kids and young adults play sports in town." Studies done in both 1987 and 2005 both came to the conclusion that the town needs more fields. "Twenty-five years ago, we had half the players because girls didn't play. We need six new fields. The shortage has been documented for years." Davidson proposed three all-purpose fields, one 90-foot baseball diamond and two 60-foot baseball diamonds.
A timeline was discussed. They expect to build the fields between the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2010. The proposal is to start with the creation of two 60-foot baseball diamonds on DPW land near the Alcott School. The new fields at the high school would follow.
Davidson also talked about the financing of the project. He said there is a lot of support for the project among the Concord town administrators. Concord's Town Manager Chris Whalen is strongly in favor of the plan and pledged $1.7 million of his budget in 2007. Concord's Community Preservation Funds (CPA Funds) could be tapped, and the remainder might be raised from donations, sports user fees, a capital fund raising effort and perhaps a $25 field fee to support the new fields. In the third year, lights and the last baseball diamond could be funded by user fees and gifts.
In addition, Davidson talked about maintaining the fields. He said, "It takes $25,000 to $30,000 to maintain a grass field per year by college standards. After twelve years or so, the artificial fields will need to be resurfaced for roughly $350,000.
At this point the RSC members jumped in. Michael Fitzgerald said funding could be achieved for fields on regional school land through a vote. He added, "It is good use of the land. It meets the needs of CCHS students and our towns." Betsy Biladeau commented that she expected some contribution from Carlisle. "We should approach Carlisle for CPA funds, at least for the fields on RSC land." Fitzgerald said he would go before the Carlisle Selectmen and Carlisle Recreation.
Biladeau also raised a concern about irrigation on the top of the hill if the fields are grass. She also expressed the need for a lit field so older teenagers would have a place to go and play after dark. "Kids are looking for healthy outlets."
Concord Assistant Town Manager Doug Meagher strongly suggested artificial turf for the existing CCHS football field. Principal Art Dulong also highly supported that idea.
© 2006 The