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FOTCAC Will Ask Taxpayers For $1.7M For High School Athletic Complex

Group wants town to borrow money for scaled down version of Tewksbury High playing field project.

Time is running out in the fourth quarter and the Friends Of Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex (FOTCAC) are in a two-minute drill in their year-long quest to

for the new high school complex to include a multi-purpose synthetic turf playing field surrounded by an eight lane running track, complete with expanded viewing stands, lights, a scoreboard and a press box.

But eight months of fund-raising has netted the group just $14,600 in ready cash, and the committee has decided to go hat-in-hand to the voters and ask Tewksbury’s taxpayers to pony up $1.7 million for a scaled down version of the project.

“Given the fact that we need to raise nearly $2 million we’re a long way from getting home,“ FOTCAC spokesman Paul Hibner told the Tewksbury School Committee at its Wednesday night meeting. “At this point, with the few funds that we have, there is no way we will accomplish our goal and hit the target date that is projected for the fall of 2013. So this is something we would like to put forward (at town meeting).”

FOTCAC can have an article added to the annual May town meeting warrant simply by submitting a petition, signed by 10 registered, voters before the board of selectmen closes the warrant in early spring. Either the school committee or the board of selectmen could vote to place the article on the town meeting warrant at FOTCAC’s request, as well.

“There’s plenty of time to get this in front of the voters (in May), and we think the residents of Tewksbury should have the opportunity to decide (whether the project dies or moves forward),” Hibner said.

The proposal that Hibner hopes to see go before town meeting would not include lighting for night games, Hibner said. about potential noise and traffic problems if the proposed complex were to host night games, particularly high school football games.

“In response to the neighbors’ concerns, we’ve decided to remove the lights from the proposal,” Hibner said.

Hibner expressed disappointment that his group’s fundraising efforts have met with relatively little success. In eight months, FOTCAC has received just $4,000 in corporate donations and $10,000 in private donations, according to Hibner.

“It’s disappointing, because we’ve got a lot of verbal support,” Hibner said. “I don’t know, maybe it’s a sign of the (economic) times. People tell you they think it’s a great idea and they’ll send you a check on Monday, but the check never comes.”

FOTCAC has had some success at raising funds through its “Affinity Program” with TD Bank. Through this program, TD Bank has agreed to contribute a percentage of its earnings from funds deposited with the bank that are linked to the project. Hibner forecasted that the TD Bank program will generate approximately $90,000 for the project over the next 10 years.

Hibner said the group will be applying for a $500,000 Parks Grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this spring, as well.

But grants and fundraising are extremely unlikely to generate the money that would be needed to expand the current new high school building plans before it is time to break ground for the grass field that was approved when town meeting voted to build the new high school last February.

Hibner denied that this was a last gasp attempt to keep the project alive.

“It’s more of an attempt to keep (the project) on track and have a field that’s ready for the kids to play on in the fall of 2013,” Hibner said. “They’re going to start tearing down the (existing) high school this summer and when that happens they need to start construction on the new (athletic) facility, and we just clearly don’t have the means to make that happen now.”

Hibner received support from several school committee members after his presentation.

“I think it’s important that the townspeople have a say in what’s being done,” school committee member Dennis Francis said. “I really applaud the efforts that you are trying to do because I really think it’s a project down the road that will benefit not just the schools, but it will benefit everybody in this community.”

School board member Brian Dick, who also sits on the FOTCAC committee, expressed frustration that the group’s fundraising efforts have not been more fruitful.

“We haven’t had a lot of bites,” Dick said. “But as frustrating as that is, there’s still a lot of enthusiasm within the group that I see. ...There’s a lot of people who would like something like this for the high school. I think (a town meeting vote) is very important.”

School committee member Joe Russell, who has been an advocate for the project since it’s initial stages, suggested that FOTCAC may find some support from taxpayers, given the fact that the new high school building project has come in well under budget so far.

“I’m glad that you’re looking at an article,” Russell told Hibner. “The building committee was given the task of building a new high school, the (taxpayers) gave them a certain amount of money that they’re willing to pay for it, the bids came in a lot lower, the high school is on track, everything is working out well. There’s monies that the town was willing to pay for an A-plus facility and I think if we don’t put in a field that can be used all three seasons…that we’re doing the town a disservice if we don’t bring this to them and give them a chance to decide whether to invest in it or not.

“I think once people see how valuable that field is at the high school…they’ll realize that it was a great investment,” Russell added.

Russell also asked to bring the matter back before the committee for on vote on whether or not to have it added to the town meeting warrant.

“I would like to, as a committee, try and do something, because it think it’s something that the town needs and I think the opportunity is now,” Russell said.

Kylie Sedgwick February 09, 2012 at 10:23 PM
As a three sport, student athlete at TMHS (soccer, indoor track, and tennis), I implore the taxpayers of Tewksbury to see the high schoolers' side of the argument. The new sports complex will be great for students, boosting attendance at athletic events. The athletes at TMHS make up a great percentage of the school and they provide the morale and enthusiasm behind the scenes. Speaking from experience, our sport teams are excellent at making the best out of the worst facilities. Our indoor track team runs in the hallways for practice. An eight-lane outdoor track would help the indoor/outdoor program and make large, revenue-generating meets possible. Not to mention the appeal of a turf field for football, lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey, without the upkeep of a grass field. As for the tennis courts (they are included but not mentioned in this article), the convenience of the courts would be doing the girls' tennis team a huge favor, and it might open up the possibility of eventually forming a boys' team also. Currently to get to practice every day, my teammates and I take our backpacks, tennis bags, and racquets onto a bus to the Wynn, where we change and then walk to the courts at Livingston. These courts are fine for now, but the quality is greatly deteriorating due to poor original construction. Essentially, five courts are best for a match. We have three. Sometimes we play matches until it's too dark to see the ball. So please, see this from another perspective.
denise February 09, 2012 at 10:32 PM
well said Jessica! The elementary schools are a mess...
Jake P February 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Kylie, I understand why you would want it but here is my take. Why don't you go out tomorrow and buy a new Mercedes convertible? Simply because you cannot afford it at the present time. Hopefully sometime in the future you will be able to afford what you want. Right now your money has to be spent on priorities, as well as ours. Hope you understand our point of view
Jon Pratt February 09, 2012 at 11:02 PM
http://beverlysportspark.org/Beverly_Sports_Park/Home.html This committee was a smoke screen from the beginning raising 2m in 6 months Oh ya How about hitting up the state and the CPA for funding - self funding means what it says. I'll go along with .5M if your gang comes up will the rest
Just a Mom February 09, 2012 at 11:05 PM
A field is going to be built no matter what, so why build something subpar when we have the opportunity to build something that is almost maintenance free and gives us the opportunity to rent it out and make money. By the way, I heard lights were cut from the plans - so Friday night lights will not be an issue. AND, I will not have any more children in the school system when this is completed, my children will all be in College. I just think if we're building it we should do it right from the get go
Jon Pratt February 09, 2012 at 11:11 PM
School under budget means the taxpayer will have to pay less in taxes for the school not that it can spend more to make some elses dream come true. By the way the schools will be looking at 50M to replace 3 of the 4 elementary schools within the next five years.
Friend of Ferncroft February 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Justamom, do you know what the life expectancy of the Artificial Turf is and how much maintenance there is for this type of surface?. The life expectancy is 7-9 years if it is maintained. Who in this town is going to maintain it? The DPW doesn't have the budget or equipment! We can't even get a decent coat of paint on our current schools. When the surface wears out we, as tax payers, will be forced to pay the fee for the replacement. Ask Mr Spencer the cost of the installation for the initial surface. Multiply it by 1.5 for removal and replacement, not including an increase in materials and labor! This group was asked openly in their "neighborhood" meeting if they would ask the town to contribute any funds. The answer was "If we come close to raising the funds we may ask the town for assistance to close the gap" I truely hope that no one in the room was blind to the fact, rasing 2.2 million in 6 months was not going to happen. That is why the question was raised. Here we are now, no closer to 2.2 million and we are hitting the town for money, "just" 1.7 million. (We cut out the lights due to the concerns of the abutters) Well I am an abutter and you weren't concerned then and you're not now! Finish the school! Save the money and pay some of the bills that the town has incured during periods of mismanagement. Open the fire station that we are still paying for, which is vacant 80% of the time. If you want a field to rent out, go buy a piece of property and have at it!!
Friend of Ferncroft February 10, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Anyone want to carpool to to NH to get a 30 pack of Bud. I don't have enough money for gas since I spent my last 20 weeks pay on my water bill and property taxes. Plus I won't have to recycle the cans, since there's no deposit there!!
eldee February 10, 2012 at 01:15 AM
The only way to stop this is to show up at TM.
"the eyes of T-Bury" February 10, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Let's see, our mtge payment has gone up 80- a month to cover the latest tax increase, our excise tax is 140.- for the "privilege " of driving on these potholed roads, our water bill will skyrocket because there is now a drought ..... Not enough snow to or rain to support us.... Oh wait!!!! We still have to pay the balance due on the sewer pipe running in front of our house ( whether we hook up or not ) We're being nickled and dimed to death...new police station, new library, new high school, and now ? A top of the line sports center??? There won't be anyone living in this town, just a lot of empty houses ........ Where will it end? You can't get blood from the proverbial stone.....so stop squeezing us
Alex Ro February 10, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I agree with you. There will still be costs associated with this. I dont believe this will be free and easy to maintain. Who is going to clean up and who is going to pay for the custodian to do this. Who is going to pay the light bill. Oh wait I know, raise taxes again why dont ya. You know like the sewer we were told it would only be xxx and now we are all paying triple water bills.
Alex Ro February 10, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Instead of spending 1.7 million why not fix the courts. There are lights there too. What is the park for anyhow? Will that just not be used anymore once the dream courts are in.
Alex Ro February 10, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Cant someone on here that has a convertible drive us, they seem to be able to afford all.
BM February 10, 2012 at 04:38 AM
You have hit the nail right on the head ! Enough is Enough in this town !!!
BM February 10, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Apparently Mr. Hibner and his cohorts have the money to pay for this !!!! Let him and his group pony up if they are so well off !!!! What hypocrites !!!!
billvill February 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM
For Rick Spencer: If it is fiscally such a good deal, the FOTCAC should have no problem convincing a bank to loan them the $$, no? If the money to maintain the field (as currently planned) has already been earmarked, and the cost to maintain such a proposed complex is so much less, you've got your monthly payment right there. What, you say...we don't want a monthly payment?? Well, neither do we. Our tax burden is high enough, and I hate Budweiser.
Douglas Sears February 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Is artificial turf the way to go? This commentator says artificial turf fields cost from $500,000 to $2,000,000 and have a useful life of 5 to 10 years? Grass fields have a 15 year life. Read and compare. http://www.njwec.org/images/pdf%27s/fac ... alterf.pdf
Jon Pratt February 10, 2012 at 03:27 PM
http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/turf-wars-pros-and-cons-of-artificial-turf http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/fact_sheet.htm Turf field are great but the environmental concerns are alarming as they are made from products that are known to create health issues that are not a concern in a natural field Also no pesticides products are allowed to used on school grounds.
Rick Spencer February 10, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Well, billvill, at least you're starting to think about solutions, which is encouraging to see. Unfortunately, there isn't a bank on the planet that would lend a loosely organized thid party such as FOTCAC that kind of money to build something on land they don't own. There would be no way to assign collateral But the landowner could qualify to borrow the money if the bank thought the improvements to the property would save the landowner enough in operating costs, and generate enough new revenue to cover the montly loan payment. Get it? Also, please understand that I am not taking a position one way or the other on this. All I'm saying is that everyone should consider all the information before they decide whether or not to support this idea. Throwing your hands up in the air and running down the street screaming like an extra in a Japanese horror film does nothing to aid the democratic process.
billvill February 10, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Rick, I 'get it' and aren't quite sure why you feel the need to patronize, unless of course your motivation is to piss people off, but my post was full on sarcasm (with a little economics mixed in). Problem is, sarcasm deosn't translate well in this forum. The bottom line for me is, the FOTCAC is in need of operating cash, cash that isn't readily available. The town's people have spoken pretty clearly here, they aren't gonna pony it up. I would suggest they either drop it and accept the plan as currently drawn up or find another source of cash.
Jon Pratt February 10, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Hey Rick we have a CPA bank thats funding a new town Hall - I hear they're awash in money and looking for good ideas.
Jon Pratt February 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_Recreation/middle
Friend of Ferncroft February 10, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Next!!!!!
jo February 10, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Would the high school football team use this new field? Right now they are on sacred turf. No one else gets to use Doucette Field. Who will determine what organizations get to use the proposed turf field? There are a lot of questions unanswered. I cannot go along with this group of individuals who are trying to push their agenda through. I also sense that they knew their mission was going to be unsuccessful. Also, the beer reference is insulting to the intelligence of the readers of this forum. The citizens of Tewksbury deserve more respect.
Jim Wentworth February 11, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Bill, I really appreciate you providing this forum for me and my fellow residents to post comments and discuss Tewksbury Issues in a respectful and informative way. Jim
Bob Ferrari February 11, 2012 at 05:23 PM
There are continuing long running discussions on this issue here: http://www.tewksburyissues.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=9722&hilit=field+status and here http://www.tewksburyissues.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=10088 Adding four more cups of coffee to the already 100 cups of coffee a day for all the other "extras" the public is paying for is getting out of hand..... Bob Ferrari http://www.TewksburyIssues.org
billvill February 11, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Where's the facepalm emoticon when you need it?
Dan O'Neill February 12, 2012 at 12:21 AM
My kid is in three sports right now...we pay for every one of them....by the way, he does not like turf fields....gets turf burn...also injuries can occur from the turf...I have read in the past that young kids are hurting knees, ankles etc because there is no give to the turf....nothing wrong with a good grass field & running track....just my opinion....
"the eyes of T-Bury" February 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Listen , the next time you go to N.H. for beer, can you pick me up some bottle rockets and cherry bombs? There's going to be lots of fireworks at the town meeting!!!!
Gordon Pickguard February 12, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Right Cathy. Rick Spencer will be driving us all to N.H. every month in his car for a beer run. We'll see how the economics of that work for him !

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