NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The newly formed Fields Committee in Northbridge held its first meeting Wednesday night, and members agreed they have a lot of work ahead of them.
The group identified several issues to address, including difficult access to the fields behind the high school on Linwood Avenue, overuse of all of the town’s athletic fields and a lack of funding to maintain fields.
At one time, children played mostly football and baseball, and the fields had a chance to rest between seasons. But that is no longer the case, said Paul Halacy, director of school buildings and grounds.
With school teams and community teams, school and park and recreation fields are used almost constantly. “They look nice and green from the sides,’’ Halacy said, but the playing areas are worn.
With so many teams using the fields seven days a week from spring to late fall, “when are we supposed to grow grass?’’ Halacy said.
“What was grass has turned into dirt,’’ agreed Robert Parker, who represents the Park and Recreation Commission on the committee.
“The only way to bring them back is to leave them alone,’’ longtime coach and committee member John Doldoorian said. “All our fields are in trouble."
There are parking problems at the Plummers and Legion fields, lights only at Lasell Field, and “equity’’ issues, selectman and committee member James Marzec said. All varsity teams “deserve to play on a quality fields,’’ he said, and that includes field hockey and soccer.
Marzec is particularly concerned about the fields behind the high school that are high on a hill, and except for the handicapped, accessible only by foot up a steep staircase or a winding road.
“I’m relatively fit, and when I get to the top of the stairs, I feel like I’ve been working out,’’ he said.
But the biggest problem, members agreed, is money.
Over the next few months, the committee will visit all of the town's athletic fields to gauge their conditions and look closely at grants that might be available.
Parker was elected chairman. Selena Livingston, representing the School Committee, was elected vice chairman. Marzec, representing the Board of Selectmen, was elected clerk.
The group meets again Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. in the conference room at Memorial Town Hall.