Plans to install an artificial field as part of the new athletic complex being built adjacent to the new Tewksbury High hit a snag last week, as the town's application for a state grant to help pay for the project was denied.
Four communities were awarded Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grants -- which came be up to $400,000 -- but Tewksbury didn't make the cut.
"I was extremely disappointed that we didn't get the grant," said School Committee Chair Krissy Polimeno. "But we got some excellent feedback from Rep. (Jim) Micelli and Sen. (Barry) Finegold and we were strongly encouraged to re-apply."
Paul Hibner, treasurer of the Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex (FTCAC) , said the towns that were awarded grants had all applied in the past and had been turned down on their first try. He said his committee would be meeting as a group and communicating with town officials to figure out the next steps in the process.
"We've got a board meeting next Thursday (Dec. 20)," he said. "We'll regroup and figure out where we go from here."
Technically, the artificial turf field is already on track to be built. Voters approved $750,000 for the project at the October Special Town Meeting. However, at that time, Town Manager Richard Montuori said the town had no intention of spending that much money on the field. He cited private fundraising efforts by FOTCAC and the grant application process.
School Committee member Brian Dick, who is also a member of FTCAC, said the group will push on with fundraising efforts. He said he wasn't discouraged by not getting the PARC Grant.
"Clearly we're disappointed," he said. "But we're very happy with the process and how things were handled. Anytime, with that type of grant, you need some luck to be able to get it on the first try."