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Stadium Proposal Not Dead Yet, Hearing Scheduled on Grant Application

$400,000 Parkland Grant would help pay for synthetic turf surface for new field.

Supporters of a multi-purpose synthetic turf stadium are hoping that a state grant will be able to fund some of what voters refused to pay for in April.

Three months ago, for a $2 million debt exclusion to fund an expanded stadium proposal as part of the new high school construction project.

Now, the town has prepared an application seeking up to $400,000 from the state in the form of a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Community Grant (PARC) from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

A public information hearing regarding the grant proposal has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 11 at 4 p.m.

Supporters are hoping that the grant will provide the majority of the funding to install a synthetic turf surface on the field to be constructed adjacent to the new high school in 2013.

"The important thing is that this proposal is being sponsored by the town and not by the friends," said School Committee member Brian Dick, a member of the Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex. "(Town Manager Richard Montuori) will be host the public hearing."

According to Dick, the grant application was put together by Dr. Cynthia Basteri, who writes grant applications for the Tewksbury School District.

"We ran out of time last year (before the application deadline)," said Dick. "This year, we got all our ducks in a row. Cindy really did a great job."

According to Dick, the town of Beverly received a $500,000 Parkland Grant last year for the purpose.

"I think we've got a good shot at it. We qualify," he said, adding that the public hearing is one of the requirements for the grant because the field construction is being done next to what is called an "Environmental Justice" site.

In their original proposal, the FOTCAC envisioned a 1,500-seat stadium with synthetic turf, lighting for night games and a five-court tennis complex. The Parkland Grant would only go toward the field surface.

Dick said that even if the town is awarded a grant, residents would need to vote to accept the grant at a fall Special Town Meeting.

According to the public notice for the hearing, "any person would like to view the grant application please contact the Town Manager’s office at 978-640-4300 and if any person cannot attend the hearing but would like to provide comments you can you do so by mailing to the Town Manager’s Office, 1009 Main St.
Tewksbury, MA 01876 or by email to hmchambers@tewksbury-ma.gov."

 

Lauren July 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Donna, agreed. Where is the talk of looking for grants to fund gifted and talented programs?
Rusty July 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM
A public information hearing regarding the grant proposal has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 11 at 4 p.m. at Town Hall Auditorium. This is a disgrace having a meeting at this time of day assures that most people are still at work. Shame on our town manager for setting this meeting up at 4PM.
Donna Wilson July 11, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I know how important sports are to kids - my daughter is a competitive gymnast and my son does swim team - both of which I pay for and does not come out of our tax money. And yes, I think the kids need somewhere to hang out and play some pick-up games, etc. But I think that this grant will only cover the begining stages of what is being put into place and I feel the people of Tewksbury's taxes have been substantially raised within the last year. What about our residents who are on fixed incomes, who are unemployed and those who have not gotten raises in the past couple of years? Where ARE the programs for gifted children that we used to have in town? I have no problems with any of this IF IT HAS BEEN LOOKED AT CAREFULLY AND THE COST PROJECTED OUT CORRECTLY which doesn't seem to happen often in this town! Remember the sewer project?
J. S. July 11, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Exactly Donna. When I have talked to the schools about challenging my child I was told to take them to Kumon.
bk July 11, 2012 at 05:09 PM
It would be a good idea to have few Tennis courts next to the HS. Currently HS Tennis team need to travel to Wynn and then through woods to reach Livingston street courts.. this is pathetic.
Karyn July 11, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Given the time of day....it would be beneficial to the residents if this is going to be taped and subsequently televised on the local town channel..... anyone know?
Karyn July 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
It is my understanding that the Friends of Tewksbury Tennis have separated themselves from the main group to seek funding for 5 tennis courts ONLY to be placed at the new HS via Community Preservation Funds. Of course that appropriation measure itself will have to be voted on by the residents at Special Town Meeting in October.
jo July 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM
This is one of those grants that could cost the town citizens more money to fulfill. Who authorized Ms Basteri to write this grant proposal? Who is paying her for this effort? I feel that this is an attempt to coerce the taxpayers to fund a proposal that was already voted down. The more that I hear of Mr. Dick, the more I am dissatisfied.
RunningGreen July 12, 2012 at 10:20 AM
I disagree. After the vote on the athletic complex, Mr. Dick stated that FOTAC would continue to look for other ways to help fund parts of the plan. The vote was only to use taxpayer funds to build the entire new complex. With this grant, taxpayer funds would not be used to build the turf field. I don't see why Mr. Dick looks bad because of this. There may only be taxpayer funds to maintain the field, which you would still be paying even with a grass field. Ms. Basteri is paid by the school district, like any other employee you would come across. I strongly doubt she is being paid by an outside group.
RunningGreen July 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM
But you are also paying for the maintenance and everything else that involves the grass field as well.
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM
I expect to see an article or two online today, as the press was there. I will provide some of the info discussed. The anticipated cost of installing turf would be ~$750,000 and the maximum grant amount is $400,000. It was stated that it is hoped that the balance can be obtained through donations, but that if there was still a balance remaining, the Town Manager would look to see if there is any money available to put toward it in the fall. There would be a vote on this grant/appropriation in the fall, but the article would be written that any action is contingent on us receiving the grant (as the grant isn't expected to be awarded prior to the town meeting). The amount already put aside for the grass field (~$70K) would be available as part of the $350K. Maintenance costs are expected to be partially covered by the TD Bank contributions worked out through the FOTAC. Nobody actually knows yet how long these turf fields last, as they haven't been around long enough. After we see any articles out on this today, I'll fill in any other gaps if they leave anything out.
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Lowell Sun has the article online now: http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_21058694/low-turnout-tewksbury-field-hearing
Dave Stanley July 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Thanks for the information Sean! I just wanted to put my two cents in which is that I’m very disappointed in the Town Manager if he is saying he “would look to see if there is any money available to put toward it in the fall”. I think we need to refocus our efforts to our police and fire departments. If that money didn’t get pushed through at the last town meeting for the South Street Fire Station it wouldn’t be open. If those funds weren’t pushed through by the people in this town, come this fall the field would probably have taken precedent over public safety (I’m sure of it). Also, I have a question if anyone can answer it, I know this came up at a previous meeting about the property the new high school sits on is it owned by the school department or the town? If it’s owned by the school department then the town, in my opinion, shouldn’t be trying to fund the rest of this project. Mark my works, the superintendent of school already put this out to parents when he first came on board that our elementary schools are falling apart. The school department willing be looking for funding to replace these schools soon enough. I don’t think these types of efforts should be going towards a high school field it should be going towards newer schools, better curriculum, programming,and supports.
J. S. July 12, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Exactly right Dave.
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I knew that that was the statement that would be a problem as I sat there listening. I tried to reason through it to see how it would play out. Let's say fund raising leaves a need for $200K. That number would probably be difficult to justify putting towards a field with the other needs in town. Now, let's bring that number down to $50K. For a lot of people, any town money towards the field is too much. However, a lower number like that would make it a lot easier for others to accept. The Town Manager's statement doesn't mention how much would be too much, but I would think that he and the Selectmen (& FinCom, etc.) would have to consider what might be acceptable to a majority at town meeting. Regarding the property, the school department is just a department in the town. The town is the owner of the property.
malcolm nichols July 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Perhaps a note to Full Name: Richard K. Sullivan Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs First Appointed: 01/2011 env.internet@state.ma.us might help. Another Sullivan???
denise July 12, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Has anyone noticed the condition of the elementary schools in this town...? Never mind a "state of the art stadium"....Start strong...stay strong...
Bob July 12, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Running, ALL state money is tax payer money! The Grant is tax payer money! The problem is people don't understand this and continue to call it state money. It is the tax payers money. Sean - The voters said no to any money from the town tax receipts. If Mr. Montouri moves to make any funds available, he should be fired! No is no.
EMA July 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I totally agree, Denise. It's a shame so many people are so focused on this ridiculous project and not focusing on the sorry state of our other school buildings.
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Bob - That's not quite true. I voted against the project as a whole, as I know others did. I also know that if it were just tennis courts, it would have had a better chance of passing (I would have voted "yes"). It might also have passed if it was smaller in scope. The way you interpret the result of the vote is definitely different than some other people's. Do I want to see anything but donations used to fill in the balance? No. Would I consider it if the number was low enough? Sure. I just have a feeling that there won't be enough in donations to make that number small enough to justify use of tax dollars.
Bob July 12, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Sean - I may be wrong but I don't think so. The article voted on didn't have a number since the final figure wasn't known. It was a simple open question about adding a tax to all Tewksbury residents (over-ride 2 1/2) for the costs of the field and supporting costs. The ballot question was a generic question to use tax dollars to fund the additional work to the proposed new stadium. It was rejected. The "how much" question was never part of it (the ballot question not people's opinions). If any dollars are to be diverted, that would have to be put back in front of the voters IMHO. Whether at the ballot or town meeting. It would have to be voted on.
Dirk Anderson July 12, 2012 at 03:25 PM
No DeeBee, it is NOT free money! It is my tax dollars. And what happens in 10 years when the turf needs to be replaced? Oh, Tewksbury will have to pay for it. No thanks.
Dirk Anderson July 12, 2012 at 03:34 PM
We have a fire department that cannot stay open all year, schools that are falling down, but yeah, let's spend money on astroturf! Does this current plan still have a press box included?
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Bob - The number was known to most people to be approximately $2M, so it certainly was part of the decision. That being said, you are correct that any dollars being diverted would have to be approved at Town Meeting. Even $50K would have a tough time getting approved in my mind, but not as tough as $2M. Dirk - this grant money is only for the turf. Will the FOTAC try to add other things in the future? Probably.
Bob July 12, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Sean - One of the issues many I spoke to had was the wording of the question which left the dollar amount very open ended. The last line was "...including the payment of all costs incidental and related thereto". I saw numbers from $1.6M to $2.3M which is basically the cost of the field turf itself. Big range. I just don't want a tax burden of any amount pushed on people barely getting by as it is.
Karyn July 12, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Even the full amount of the grant were we to get it would not fully fund the turf field in its entirety. Where would the extra money come from in the immediate sense? Can the former donations be counted on where many contributors made it contingent upon if there were night lighting included which this does not? Like you and I'm sure others Sean, the statement by the TM troubles me as I feel he should be focusing on TOWN matters not the school dept. or special interests. Our Board of Selectmen may want to take note of that as he reports to them. Thank the Lord we still have Open Town Meeting!
Alex Ro July 12, 2012 at 07:23 PM
If there is any extra money in the town the town manager will look into that. What in the world is he thinking? There are NO librairians in our schools, they want parents to volunteer and here they are making this state of the art sports facility. Unreal. And they mentioned donations. Last I heard there was $12,000 in the fund for this. And where will this extra donation come from? Money trees?
Vinnie from Tewksbury July 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
We voted it done during the last election. My taxes are high enough now paying for the new high school and the sewer connection. The last town manager lost his job over the bungled sewer project. Does the new town manager want to meet the same fate as the last one? The state funds will partially cover the costs of the new “Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex”. It does not cover the entire cost of the track. To those of you who feel strongly about this new project, apply for the sate grant and then make up the difference yourselves. Don’t ask me and the others that voted against it to pay for a project we already said no to.
Sean Czarniecki July 12, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Karyn - I wondered the same thing about the previously donated money which was supposedly contingent on lighting. I have a feeling that they might have to just hold that money aside. That's another reason that I don't think they will be able to come up with that much money, but if they can, great. Regarding the "town matters not the school dept.," I would have to disagree with your stance there, as the schools (and school dept.) are part of the town. We don't build a school under the school dept., but rather as a town project. With respect to the Selectmen, Mr. Sears was there and stated that the Selectmen supported the grant application. He emphasized that that was it. Nothing more. I feel the same way. Going for grant money is fine. The balance of the capital costs and the maintenance costs are what really need to be discussed.
Karyn July 13, 2012 at 06:06 AM
I guess I should re-phrase that so it doesn't sound like a Town side vs. School side which is not really what I meant.....and I'd have no issue if this were an educational component benefiting ALL (as in upgrading elementary schools) as opposed to a sports field for a select faction/special interest group. I think Mr. Montuori has more than enough on his plate in focusing on "looking to see if there is any money available in the Fall to put toward" PRIORITIES that benefit the WHOLE Town like safety, fire issues, etc. And again, the devil is in the details going beyond obtaining the grant in and of itself.

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