Field Proposal/Debt Exclusion Pulled From Town Meeting Warrant

FOTCAC President says group will focus its efforts on grants, private donations and corporate sponsorships.

Brian Dick and the other board members of the heard the message sent by Tewksbury residents on Saturday.

It stung, to be sure. But Dick says the message came through loud and clear.

to pay for an expanded athletic facility, the matching article is being pulled from the upcoming Annual Town Meeting Warrant.

"I'm not going to get up before the voters at Town Meeting with this or with any piece of this (proposal)," said Dick, a member of the Tewksbury School Committee and president of the FOTCAC.

Dick said that rather than try to get a pared down version of the field plan passed at Town Meeting, FOTCAC would focus its attention on grant applications, private fundraising and the pursuit of corporate sponsorships.

The athletic complex presently planned for the new high school will feature a grass field, a running track, concession stands, restrooms and seating for 500 fans.

The expanded plan would have included a scoreboard, at least 500 more seats, a multi-sport artificial turf field, a five-court tennis facility and lighting. Voters defeated the measure at Saturday's municipal election by a 2-1 margin.

"Yeah, it's definitely (difficult)," Dick said of the defeat. "It's something you put your whole self into. A lot of us spent almost two years on this."

Dick is steadfast that the expanded field plan is essential for Tewksbury, as it moves forward as a community.

"We're getting a 21st century high school and the field just isn't what it needs to be," he said. "It's not the 'Friends' that lost on Saturday or the seniors. It's the kids of Tewksbury that lost out, in my eyes."

Dick said the biggest challenge will be that the longer it takes to get the expanded field built, the higher the price tag will be. Part of that is due to increased cost for materials and part is due to the fact that if an artificial turf field after the complex is already completed, the track would need to be torn up and rebuild over the turf.


Plato April 18, 2012 at 02:51 AM
It's truly upsetting this ballot question got shut down. I don't understand why people would shut down such a good thing that can bring so many benefits to the town. However, I will leave someone who has thought out those benefits more than I have to discuss them. I would like to discuss the apathy Tewksbury residents have towards their politics. Approximately 5,000 people voted when our town is composed to 28,000+ people. Whether you are in favor or not of the new sports complex, people aren't voicing their opinions in the only effective way they can which is through their votes. I want a new sports complex, and I assume/hope most of Tewksbury would want one, but they are just too lazy to vote. Anyone who is registered should vote, that is the only way a Democracy works and the majority ends up content.
Bruce Panilaitis April 18, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Hi Barry, I would be happy to help get a warrant article together for the May meeting because I think the high school should at a minimum get tennis courts, and will advocate for it and vote for it, but have no personal connection to tennis as the only times I ever tried to play I smacked the ball into the net, or over the fence...not my game, but I do hope we can get courts for the high school.
Keith Rauseo April 18, 2012 at 04:22 AM
The submission of articles to Town Meetings is governed by Mass General Laws, Chapter 39, Section 10 (http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter39/Section10) and Tewksbury General By-Law Section 2.04.020 (page 18 of http://www.tewksbury-ma.gov/Pages/TewksburyMA_WebDocs/TownGeneralBylaw). Voters can submit articles to the Annual Town Meeting by submitting a written petition signed by ten certified registered voters of the town. They can submit articles to a Special Town Meeting by submitting a petition signed by one hundred certified registered voters. The Selectmen control the issuance of the warrant. They “open” the warrant for article submission for a period of time in advance of any meeting, and “close” it at the end of that period. For the Annual Town Meeting, I believe that period is in the January-February time frame; you would have to call the Selectmen’s office at 978-640-4300 to get the exact dates. The Selectmen must include any lawful article that is submitted by the required number of certified registered voters. The warrants for the upcoming May meetings are closed, so no articles can be submitted for them at this time. The next scheduled Town Meeting is the regular fall Special Town Meeting in October. Voters can call for a Special Town Meeting for specific purposes by submitting a written petition describing those purposes and signed by two hundred certified registered voters.
Dirk Anderson April 18, 2012 at 09:53 AM
Thanks Bill. One of my biggest problems with tho whole thing was complete lack of information. Though at this point in time, with all of the debt the town has run up, I'd still be voting against anything I do not think is a necessity. If it were a matter of having to cut a softball or soccor team it would be different, but this town is going to be deep in debt for many years.
Bee Free April 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM
weren't they supposed to pursue grants, private donations and corporate sponsors in the first place? why is this "now" the focus?it is hard to take these guys seriously
Bill Gilman (Editor) April 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Bee Free ... the error here was in my wording ... the group has been pursuing grants and private donations and corporate grants from the outset. I should have said that they will continue to focus on that.
SD From T-Bury April 18, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I wonder if it would be easier to get a corporate grant for just the tennis courts, or just a scoreboard. Maybe different corporations provide for different pieces of an upgrade. What has the response been from companies in town?
Robert Bennett April 18, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Plato - I agree with you. The voter turnout was disappointing. I spent about 4 hrs at the Senior Center and most of the voters were 55+. I did not see many younger voters or families with school age kids. Over the next few months, I guarantee you will hear people griping that the sports complex did not pass (yet those people never took the time to vote). I wonder if the article would have passed if we had 50% or 75% participation? I am also bummed out that they withdrew the article. That means that it cannot be modified or pared down (as many have suggested). It is now too late to start a new warrant for TM and get any work done in time. BTW - I rode my bicycle on the Minuteman Bike Path last night. As I passed the Arlington High School, I noticed they have a sports facility with artificial turf. It really was impressive. The facility was gorgeous and there were several dozen residents walking around the track. I hope Tewksbury can have such a facility someday.
Melissa Gleaton April 18, 2012 at 03:18 PM
It's a shame that the Friends didn't have a contingency plan in place (ask for the whole thing with good hopes, but be prepared to be denied and ready ask for less). They put all their eggs in one basket.
SAM April 18, 2012 at 04:27 PM
There is definitely no need for tennis courts. It's not at all a big sport in this school and if you think more kids would get into it because we'd have the courts on campus, just remember- trends die!
SD From T-Bury April 18, 2012 at 05:14 PM
What kind of financial shape is Arlington in? Maybe they can afford it. Our town is in debt up to our ears. Once that's cleared up we can focus on adding extras. RIght now, let's be grateful to get the new high school.
Jim Wentworth April 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
There has been quite an interesting shift in the tone on this board towards the "Super Complex" as it was named for a few weeks. It appears as though some who argued vehemently against it, are now open to certain aspects....just not everything. I think if an electronic scoreboard and/or tennis courts and/or lights and/or field turf, were to be installed, it would still require an investment from my fellow residents. It's unfortunate that we missed a critical window in terms of timing. The grants, the donations, the additional funding that came in would have offset the bond that was required for the installation of these items. There is a great possibility that this bond would have been paid off well in advance of the 10 years and saved our taxpayers a significant sum of money while being able to enjoy all of these amenities. Jim Wentworth
Simon Cowell April 18, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I must disagree. The critical window as you call it is not much than a desire to have the project completed along with the new high school. You are absolutely entitled to your preference, but to imply that the only way to save the taxpayers money was to approve the project now seems self serving. The FOTCAC and its supporters need to concentrate on what Paul Hibner stated less than a year ago, raising the funds privately. The FOTCAC could save the taxpayers money by raising funds privately and then coming back to ask for a much smaller public monetary commitment. If I see that happen, you can count me in. Jim, your political circle has been very sucessful recently, and a lot of that has to do with the high quality of your candidates and projects, like the new high school. The sports complex, as presented, did not measure up. Too many questions and variables, and the taxpayers feel overextended.
jo April 18, 2012 at 08:03 PM
What grants, what donations? We were asked to fund this complex, and overwhelmingly said "no". If anyone really believes that this complex, if funded would be open to the public, just ask to use Doucette. This complex would totally be under the auspices of the school department. I just think that people are trying to explain away the vote. The voters said "no" and that is it. This is not the first time that Tewksbury voters said no, and will not be the last. The exception to the rule is the overwhelming response that the new high school construction received when it was on the ballot.
John Moulaison April 18, 2012 at 10:19 PM
why not put our hard earn money towards opening south street firestation full time . john
SM April 19, 2012 at 01:09 AM
While everyone here has been talking about the total cost of the complex as the main issue, my concern was the maintenance of this facility. I haven't seen anyone lay out what the cost of running this would be (water/sewer, electric, employees, etc). Who would foot this bill if there wasn't enough money from ticket sales etc; and of course who will pay for the inevitable repairs that would need to be done by the time we pay this debt. If they had such a hard time getting sponsors to subsidize this complex who's to say they will get enough to run it? To me it was more than just the cost of the facility. It seems like everyone got excited when there was left over money from the high school and never sat to think this through. If someone knows where this plan is please let me know.
Bruce Panilaitis April 19, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Thanks Keith, I knew you would have the answer! Does anyone from the FOTAC or other know when the tennis courts and/or any modifications to the planned field would have to be decided on in order to not slow down the construction schedule? On a related note, even if the FOTAC pulled their warrant, wasn't it placed there by the Selectman, so could it not still be acted on in May?
billvill April 19, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Care to elaborate on how the bond would have been paid off in less than 10 years? With the capital expenditures currently out or planned for this town I don't see that, and it was one of the main reasons for voting no on question 1. I saw a distinct possibility for the turf needing replacement before the initial bond was paid off.
billvill April 19, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Also, there is a big difference between the $380-$400k for tennis courts and lights than the $1.95M for the whole package. In my view, it would be far more likely to secure corporate donations for a trimmed down version of the plan.
Jon Pratt April 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Hi friends of get out of debt- fogood Send your extra money to town hall to pay off debt
Bruce Panilaitis April 19, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Another question Keith, If we got 200 signatures, could the selectman schedule the "special meeting" on the same night as the regular meeting, just to begin immediately after the regular meeting? That way we could discuss a piece-by-piece approach and not make people come out another night.
Joe Casparius April 19, 2012 at 03:48 PM
"I want a new sports complex, and I assume/hope most of Tewksbury would want one" Wrong- Tewksbury voters have already stated in the election that we do NOT want one!
AC 07 April 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
jo, you are correct, redmen football club will say who may or may not use complex they will hold the key !!!!!! also naming rights.
Bill Gilman (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Jo, The FOTCAC have reported raising around $30,000, as well as a commitment from TD Bank for around $8,000 a year for at least 10 years. As for oversight of the facility, you are correct. The school department will oversee it, as it does all of the town's recreation facilities. All FOTCAC said was that it will continue those fundraising efforts until such time as the amenities needed can be paid for.
Tewksbury Needs Culture April 19, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I will never vote for anything toward improving athletic facilities - not until this small-minded town puts the big money into the arts. This town is sorely lacking in culture. When people ask my opinion about moving to Tewksbury, I tell them, "it's affordable but the school system lacks, it's a struggle to get support for students w/special needs, and very little emphasis toward the arts. It's a big sports town, but nothing else."
Bruce Panilaitis April 19, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Can we all stop with the insults. I agree 100% that we need to ALSO fund the arts in our schools at a higher level, but calling your fellow citizens "small-minded" is not likely to convince of the merits of your argument. Bill, have you ever considered requiring people to put their real names on these posts so that we don't have anonymous mud-slinging going on?
Tewksbury2001 April 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
What do you propose as a solution?
Jim Wentworth April 20, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Are you really posting under the name of Simon Cowell?
Jim Wentworth April 20, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Billvill, Thanks for your note. With all of the work that the FTCAC has been doing with private organizations, grants, etc...the money would be coming in eventually. But it takes time and the construction of the new high school was the main driver in terns of timing. It's a moot point but if the question had passed during the ballot and also at town meeting, any monies generated through grants and additional private donations would have been targeted to pay off the bond that was just voted down. This would have enabled our residents to pay off this bond in less than 10 years. It's done now though and I absolutely respect the FTCAC's decision to pull the article from Town Meeting. Jim Wentworth
bk April 20, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Bruce P., You are correct about the need for the Tennis courts in the HS campus. Like you, I tried convincing people of this big *ALSO* factor. Just because we have problems in one area(arts, MCAS score etc) does not merit shooting some thing (athletic facility or at list Tennis courts) down that would make our community attractive. Sure we have other problems and shooting down this vote is "no guarantee" that those things would be fixed. We need both. It would be as ludicrous to shoot down the arts/music proposal because there is no athletic facility. -BK


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