The recreation department is requesting Community Preservation Act funding to create more fields on land adjacent to the Chandler Elementary School. Recreation director Gordon Cushing explained his proposal to the Community Preservation Committee last week.
Cushing and the Recreation Activities Committee are requesting $40,000 for an engineering study and plans for new fields at the 67-acre school-owned parcel adjacent to the current playing fields at Chandler School.
The money would pay for a property survey that includes wetlands delineations, soil testing, testing for irrigation wells as well as preliminary through final design of the layout of athletic fields, driveways and parking areas and submittals of permits to both local and state authorities.
Cushing said the plan is to build a regulation sized baseball field, a regulation sized softball field, two outdoor basketball courts, and two multipurpose playing fields, as well as install irrigation and construct more parking.
Currently on the property there are soccer fields, a baseball field and a concessions stand as well as a parking lot.
The town needs new fields to meet the demand, said Cushing.
Last year, over 6,000 users played on the town’s fields, which, he said, are “booked solid” from mid-March through November seven days and many nights a week.
“At the same time we have seen the use of our fields grow, we have not seen any significant expansion in our field inventory,” stated Cushing in his CPA application. “The last project the town undertook was the expansion of the Keene Street field, which added one little league sized baseball field and one non-regulation practice field.”
Cushing received a quote of between $35,000 to $45,000 for the study of the property.
In his application to the CPC, Cushing included six letters of support from youth sports organizations and one from the Recreation Activities Committee. All cited good reasons for creating new fields.
Duxbury Youth Baseball’s president, John O’Connor, stated that since the baseball fields in town are in constant use, youth baseball has had to reduce the number of games and practices it plays and it must rent field time from other communities. A new regulation sized baseball field in Duxbury would alleviate these problems, he said.
Youth basketball supports the addition of new outdoor basketball courts as the ones behind the middle school have been demolished due to the new school project.
The school project has also eliminated the middle school football field and Duxbury youth football supports the effort to create new practice fields.
Duxbury youth lacrosse director Pete Prime said there are 300 boys in youth lacrosse “that are constantly scrambling for fields to play on.”
“Duxbury has a long history of competitive athletics, yet we struggle year after year to find time and space to accommodate all of the youth teams, which represent the future of our high school program,” said Prime. He added that having additional fields might give the current fields a chance to be rejuvenated.
Duxbury Youth Softball president Matt Cataldo said the town desperately needs more real softball fields – those without grass in the infield. Currently, there are only two of these softball fields in town and one – the upper high school field – he called “a complete disaster and an embarrassment to our town.”
Cushing said he has yet to meet with the school committee about the field plan but had spoken to school superintendent Dr. Ben Tantillo about the project.
CPC members asked Cushing if the field project would affect any future school build out at Chandler. Cushing said he believed if Chandler School expansion was necessary it would be directly adjacent to the school and not in the location proposed for the fields.
This field project is separate from any fields that must be built for the high and middle schools, said Cushing, as the new fields will be used mainly by youth sports.
Cushing said the idea to build more fields at Chandler “has been kicked around for decades.”
This year, changes to the Community Preservation Act have made it legal for a town to improve or rehabilitate fields or parks with CPA money, even if the facilities were not purchased with CPA funds, as was the rule in the past. That rule had severely hampered communities from applying for CPA funding to upgrade playgrounds, fields, and other facilities.
Cushing said he had been searching to buy land at Keene Street to expand that field area but had not been successful. This latest field project avoids that effort.
“Part of the beauty of this is that there are no land acquisition costs,” he said.
The CPC will vote at a future meeting on whether or not to bring this proposal to town meeting.