NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The leaders of the various athletic organizations in Northbridge will be asked to attend upcoming meetings of the Ad Hoc Fields Committee.
“Invite the president of soccer and baseball and etc. and ask them to tell us why they’d rather use some fields over others. Let’s get down to the bones,” said School Committee member Selena Livingston at a meeting Monday night. She was appointed to represent the school board on the fields committee and serves as its vice chairperson.
The ad hoc field committee was proposed by Schools Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik after voters rejected a $900,000 proposal to install artificial turf at Lasell Field. Lasell is the town's only lighted field.
At Monday’s meeting, Spitulnik reiterated what she believes should be the objectives of the ad hoc board, which includes a plan for upkeep and use.”
I can tell you why they don’t want to use Plummers. It’s safety and parking,” said Selectman James Marzec, who represents selectmen on the ad hoc committee.
“Then maybe we should be using it for something else,’’ Livingston said. Basketball courts have been proposed for that location, Marzec said, noting the skateboard park is rarely used.
After site visits, each field has been prioritized with Lasell Field at the Northbridge Middle School on Linwood Avenue a top priority.
Other fields, in order on the priority list, are the high school fields, the Legion field in Rockdale, Vail at Balmer School, Riverdale and Plummers.
The town’s fields have been poorly maintained for many years, noted committee chairperson Robert Parker, who is also a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“All of those fields are get overused and there’s no irrigation at most of them,’’ said committee member Al Richards, the school department’s athletic director.
“If we don’t have irrigation we’re just wasting our money,’’ Parker said. Irrigation would be a capital expense for the town, Marzec said.
Parker said the fields have been scaled according to need and importance. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I hope with how we’ve scaled them we’ll be able to address each of them.’’
Town planner R. Gary Bechtholdt II will attend the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Town Hall. The hope is Bechtholdt will point the committee toward potential grant money.