Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes
December 1, 2009
Regular Session 7:00 pm
Ms. Burns, Mr. Rabuffo, Mr. Riley
Annual Report on the Beal Street Fields
Tom Hoffman explained that the operation agreement is between the Town and Hingham Youth Football and Hingham Little League. The fields have been operated for two years and the report to the Board is for the year 2008. HIngham Youth Football paid over $43,724 during 2008. The field and turf maintenance alone was over $19,574. The kids and parents collect trash and there is a dumpster service. The DPW cuts the grass.
In 2009 the decision was made to have Jay McGrail and his crew perform the field and turf maintenance. The cost is about $20,000 which is billed directly to football and baseball. There is a lot of wear and tear on the fields due to the original construction of the fields and the uses. The fields were heavily compacted so it was necessary to do deep tine aeration and add gypsum. The irrigation system must be replaced in areas since it was installed poorly. It would be about $12,000 to install a well.
It was suggested by the sports groups that a discussion about advertising would be a good idea. Sponsors could hang banners so that they faced into the field, not out to Beal St.
Whenever there are large events at Lynch Field a detail officer has been hired. There are 100 parking spots in the Lynch Field lot. There are times when 150 to 175 spots are needed. There is a lot across from the field that is owned by the Flatley Company. If it is possible to reach an agreement with the company there is one parent who has offered to grade out and gravel a parking lot on that corner. It is also hoped that the sports groups can get indemnification for the Hitchcock shoe parking lot.
Mr. Riley asked if the sports groups were asking the Town to install the well. He noted that money had been set aside for a tot lot. Mr. Hoff man noted that during football season there is not much need for the tot lot. Mr. Sherman concurred that it was unlikely that such a facility would be much used during the baseball system.
Ms. Burns congratulated the sports groups on their program and thanked all the volunteers noting that these days a public private partnership is necessary to make these programs work. In terms of who should pay for the irrigation system and the well, it would be necessary to see the income as well as the expenses. Ms. Burns noted that she like Mr. Riley’s idea of redirecting money for the tot lot for a well.
Discussion of Scheduling of Playing Fields
Ms. Burns said she would like to talk about good ways to centralize scheduling. Mr. Rabuffo has been working with that group. Mr. Rabuffo said that eight or nine months ago a group was convened to discuss field management for the36 fields in Town. The group recommended that the Recreation Commission was available to schedule the management and use of the fields in a centralized place. The mechanics of how this would work is somewhat up in the air. The Recreation Commission is now charging an hourly fee so it costs more to use a Rec Field than a School or Selectmen controlled field. The proposal is to standardize fees across all town fields, but not School fields or Lynch Field. Fees for fields under the control of the Selectmen would go to the Recreation Commission and they would have pay to maintain them. Mark Thorrell has been doing some research on a computer program for scheduling fields. The fee structure was not covering costs so the fees were adjusted on Recreation fields. Mr. Rabuffo suggested that because the user is using the field they should help maintain the asset. The goal is to have the fee cover the cost.
Discussion of Carlson Fields
There is nothing in the current fiscal year’s budget to pay for the maintenance of the fields. As of July 1st it will be necessary to find a way to maintain the fields. Mr. Rabuffo said it is his hope that the Recreation Commission will step into the management of that field. The cost should be borne by the users. Mr. Sherman suggested that the sports group would be glad to operate a concession stand and bathrooms. There may be two models – the private enterprise model and the government service model. It was suggested that perhaps the Recreation Commission could draw the sports groups in and come up with a proposal on how to manage the Carlson fields. Set up an ad hoc committee. Mr. Rabuffo agreed to convene a group to discuss the best way to schedule and manage Carlson fields.
Voted - to approve the minutes of September 29, October 6, 13, 20, 27, as amended.
Selectmen/Town Administrator’s Reports
Mr. Rabuffo reported that the Fire Department has secured compliance on the outstanding issue of the standpipe and there will be a signed document by January 9. This means the facility will be in compliance in time for the spring boating season. Mr. Riley said the work has started at Station Street this will be followed by the removal of poles on North Street and then Water Street is next. If the weather allows there will be work going on throughout the winter. The area by the Liberty Grille will be reconstructed and all utilities will be buried. Mr. Riley noted that this section of North Street is the oldest street in town. It will be rebuilt with brick sidewalks and new light fixtures. Ms. Burns said that one of the items on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is to fund some hours for the person to run the government and public access channel on Town Hall. The estimates are back for wiring Town Hall. It would cost about $2,000 to do this side of Town Hall plus another $1,500 to do the other side of the building for the School Committee.
Ward Street Fields
Ms. Burns thanked the donors who came forward to offer a gift of the proposed field to the Town. The land is controlled by two elected boards – the Selectmen and the Recreation Commission. The plan must have the approval of the elected boards that control the parcel because they represent the owners of the parcel (22,000 residents).
The proponents presented their plan. There are currently 36 athletic fields in town (100 acres) takng the existing Ward St area for one field and add a second field would not significantly impact the amount of open space in town. This will create a beautiful park
The plan calls for gravel parking lots and a state of the art lighting system with lights 80 feet high. The proponents have worked with a lighting designer so there will be very little lighting spillover. The plan also calls for stands for 800 spectators with a handicapped accessible press box. There would be two buildings – a concession stand/bathroom building and a second building to serve as a team room for trainers and teams to meet. There would be a bubble over the south field that would be 80’ in height. The bubble would have an opaque fabric with all lighting on the inside so there would be no light emanating from it at night. The 200 parking spaces around the fields should be adequate for a typical event at the fields. At Plymouth River School there are an additional 250 spaces which could provide overflow parking. Initially there was talk of a driveway from PRS to the fields. Now it is suggested that access be a 12’ wide lighted pedestrian path with removable bollards at either end for emergency vehicle access. The existing field has negligible traffic impact.
This proposed project will cost more than 3 million dollars, about 2 ½ million is already raised. This will provide a three million dollar, fully funded, privately built field complex that will be given to the Town. Mr. Hydec k said the fees currently being paid for Ward Street would pay for the maintenance of the fields which is estimated to cost approximately $10,000 per year. The group proposing this project looked at other turf fields and indoor facilities near Hingham – this facility could generate about $200,000 per year versus $120,000 to $150,000 in costs. The replacement of the turf fields would be a long way out. The fee structure would allow a fair amount of money to be put away each year to fund this eventual replacement.
High School Athletic Director Margaret Connaty, Tom Hoffman and others spoke in favor of the project. The Ward Street Field group requested the Selectmen’s permission to proceed with the permitting process.
Ms. Burns said she felt that it would not be possible to take a vote this evening. Mr. Rabuffo asked if there were any conditions associated with this generous contribution from the 15 individuals. It was stated that there were no conditions and that the projected maintenance cost of$125,000 would be covered by $200,000 in revenue. Mr. Riley asked if the permitting process would be including the Board of Health. He also asked if it was correct that the group plans to invoke the Dover amendment in the project. He explained that his concern is that the light discussion has already happened at a Town Meeting and Town Meeting limited the size of the poles to 35 feet without a variance. If the Dover Amendment is allowed in this application it will be a factor in South School, the Middle School, the High School and Derby Academy. Ms. Burns remarked that it is one thing for a church or a private school to use the Dover Amendment but for the Town to use the Dover amendment is a different case. Ms. Burns requested a copy of the business plan.
Susan Murphy commented that the Town just went through a very painful process that was over process. She said this is incredibly generous but there must be votes from the Recreation Commission, Board of Selectmen, and the School Committee. The Zoning By-law is 35 feet for lights. A similar proposal for higher lights was defeated resoundingly eight years ago. She said this needs to go back to town meeting and there must be a process to allow people to hear what is proposed and, then, two thirds of them need to vote in favor.
Mr. Schram, a resident of Black Rock, said that the Black Rock community has been affected by the six to seven story buildings at Linden Ponds. He said the rural character of Ward Street should be considered. He said the Black Rock residents are supportive of the turf component but have serious concerns about the dome and the lighting. Other area residents urged the Board to think of the neighborhood and impact on sensitive land.
Meeting adjourned 11:05 pm.
Betty Foley, Clerk