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Abutters Reiterate Concerns At Final Meeting On Field Proposal

Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex make final pitch before Saturday's election.

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.)

Fewer residents attended this meeting than . But those who did speak Monday voiced familiar concerns.

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.

 

Mary April 13, 2012 at 04:14 PM
$20.00 a year? You must be kidding! The upkeep, the police details, the electricity, etc., makes this not a $20.00 a year deal increase in taxes. Any intelligent resident can see that this will never cover the expenses of this Super Athletic Complex. Next will be the Elementary Schools that are in complete disrepair. I am not saying that this field should never be built, I am just saying this is really not the right time for the extra expense. Don't spend what we don't have. Please vote "NO" on this proposal tomorrow.
Bob April 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
What really makes a town attractive to potential home buyers is low taxes, good schools and fiscal sanity in town management. This athletic field addresses none of those core concerns. As for the injuries, the NFL study said there are more serious injuries like ACL and turf toe. Finally an independent U. of Arkansas study shows the costs of a synthetic field far out pace natural grass. Including a $130,000 bill to properly dispose of the turf after done.
Friend of Ferncroft April 13, 2012 at 11:32 PM
There were less attendees because we are tired of seeing the same presentation, hearing the same "generalizations" about it's use and frankly tired of hearing the same old same old. Tomorrow is time to cast your vote either way. This house says enough is enough. Give these kids an education and hold the SC accountable for MCAS, we are graded the same way everyother town is in this state!! WHY ARE OUR SCORES SO MUCH LOWER??.. Cause we waste TIME and money on projects like this, meanwhile the SC forgot the meaning of the word EDUCATION!! (I think that's why I went to school!)
BEEZ and CEEZ FAN April 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM
2 things: Livingston St is where a complex should be located. The question today ask residents to approve the over ride of prop 2 1/2 without saying how much. It asks for approval for whatever funds are needed to build and maintain the complex. Is it even legal to state a prop 2 1/2 over ride ballot question that way??
Bill Gilman (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Just for clarification... this is a temporary debt exclusion not a permanent Prop 2 1/2 override. As I understand it with debt exclusions, the exact amount would be included when/If the matter goes before town meeting voters. If it fails today at the ballot it dies. If it pases, it will also have to pass at town meeting.
Mary April 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
From what I understand, this money is for building the complex, not maintaining it. Let's hope it doesn't go through. We are being taxed to death!
Keith Rauseo April 14, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Bill, that's not quite correct. If the ballot vote fails today the proponent can still bring it to Town Meeting. From a practical standpoint, the Town Meeting article would have to be amended to make the borrowing/spending of the new debt contingent on a ballot vote. If it got 2/3 approval at Town Meeting, it would be up to the Selectmen as to whether they wanted to have another election for it, since they have sole authority over putting questons on a ballot.
Bill Gilman (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Thanks for the clarification on that Keith. Much appreciated!
Bob April 14, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Bill, First you and the Patch have done a great job this election season. Second, there is no such thing as temporary in Massachusetts. Remember the 1989 "temporary tax increase"? In 2012 we still have a portion of it.

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