The Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex met with abutters and other residents on April 9 to make a final pitch for a $1.9 million debt exclusion to fund an expanded sports facility as part of the new high school.
Phase 2 of the high school project (to be ready for the fall of 2013) already includes an athletic field and track, with seating for 800 fans. the debt exclusion would pay for an artificial turf field, increased seating, tennis courts and lighting for the complex.
(A PDF version of the FOTCAC April 9 presentation can be found attached to this story.)
Scott Boyages, whose home on Henry G Drive is closest to the future field and track of any in the neighborhood, pointed out that there was presently just one thin line of trees acting as a buffer between the footprint of the new field and his property.
Carlos Amaral of Ferncroft Road re-stated concerns he had outlined at the March meeting, regarding noise, traffic, the lights and a general impact on the neighborhood.
"Bringing in the lights and the sound system is a major change for our neighborhood," he said. "We have a nice neighborhood, a quiet neighborhood and we want to keep it that way."
Brian Aylward, a teacher at Tewksbury High and coach of the Redmen wrestling and football teams, spoke in favor of the expanded field project and the debt exclusion.
"This is only going to enhance the attractiveness of Tewksbury," he said. "Anytime you go to do something to improve the community, someone is going to oppose it."
In the Powerpoint presentation, FOTCAC Treasurer Paul Hibner said the group attempted to address many of the concerns residents had voiced at previous meetings. One of those concerns was regarding the potential for injury on an artificial turf field. Hibner cited studies and statistics indicating that the newest technology in artificial turf actually results in fewer injuries and grass fields.
Hibner also addressed the issue of abutter privacy and crowd foot traffic, saying it was certainly possibly to improve on the six-foot chain link fence being initially proposed to surround the field complex.
Hibner said one of the reasons why the lights and expanded seating (between 1000-1500 total) is important is to qualify Tewksbury as an MIAA host facility for tournament games in sports such as football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
Recently, Tewksbury teams have had to forgo hosting home playoff games in football and boys soccer because of subpar facilities.
Hibner and FOTCAC President Brian Dick also re-iterated that the group would be continuing to try and raise funds through grants, private donations and corporate sponsorships.
If voters at Saturday's Municipal election pass the $1.93 million debt exclusion, it will still need to be approved again at the Annual Town Meeting in May.
It is estimated that the debt exclusion would add an average of $20 per year to the average property tax bill in Tewksbury.