Turf War Poll: Artificial Surface for Blocksidge — Yea or Nea

We asked a selectman who supports Article 12 at Town Meeting and a selectmen who opposes it for three reasons that anchor their positions. Weigh in with your thought by voting in our poll.


On May 7, Town Meeting representatives are scheduled to vote on Article 12, a proposal that includes $1,857,856 for Blocksidge Field improvements.

The article needs two-thirds of the representatives to vote for the article if the town borrows the money to pay for it.

A big part of the funding would pay for installing an artifical surface at Blocksidge.

We asked Selectman Jill Sullivan her three reasons for supporting the article.

We asked Selectman Glenn Kessler his three reasons for opposing the article.

We present their arguments, paraphrasing what they told us.

Here they are:

Jill's 3

1) Need: The town has 1,400 youth who play youth and high school sports.

The town's fields are so over used that it becomes difficult to schedule all the soccer, lacrosse, football, field hockey and other sports on the existing fields. Now, there is talk of adding a fall lacrosse league.

A field with lights will add capacity.

2) Value: There is an opportunity now to leverage $750,000 in private funds raised to help offset the 2.6 million project. That's 31 percent of the cost.

The project will be no less expensive in the future; and it will be no easier to raise private dollars in the future.

3) Priority: The town is investing in its emotional center.

The town has approved a new high school and a new police station, investing in education and public safety.

Phillips Park and Blocksidge Field is the heart of the town, where all generations congregate and bond.

The town needs to invest in this center to maintain that center and attract new people to town.

Glenn's 3

1) Cost: There has been talk about how an artifical surface will save $50,000 annually in maintenance (the original version of this story, mistakenly, had a different figure), and that this savings could be used to pay for the estimated half million dollars it would cost to replace the artifical surface after 10 years.

Now, there is word that an artificial surface would only save $10,000 annually in maintenance. Taxpayers would have to pay $400,000 to replace the field. That's money that could be used for other infrastructure needs in town.

2) Priority: While an artificial surface is a good idea, it would be a good idea for a time when the town's other infrastructure needs were not so glaring. The economic pressures that taxpayers feel now is great.

The $1.86 million being proposed for the Blocksidge improvements would be better spent on failing infrastructure in town including building maintenance. For instance the field house at Phillips Park has a major crack in it that need repairing.

3) Decision making: A project of this magnitude should be put before voters directly in a town-wide vote.

hammergjh May 03, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Leave it to DiMento to chime in with a solid "no". He does that on every progressive proposal our town undertakes. I guess "progress" isn't in his lexicon. LIving in the past much, Billy boy?
Lexi May 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Apparently you can afford to pay in the top 10 percent in highest property taxes in the state. I personally would love to see a turf field in town but I feel for the elderly and financially struggling young people in town. The town ceases to become a desirable place to come and live if people cannot afford to live here.
William R. DiMento May 04, 2012 at 03:04 AM
do you have a name or is that your real name?
William R. DiMento May 04, 2012 at 03:36 AM
The fin com meeting was actually informative tonight.It came down to every member stating they believed the turf field was a "need" and not a "want". We learned that the seventeen people who have pledged $450,000 in private donations have made a one time offer. Take it now cause it will not be available again. A tax deductable gift of $50,000,I must admit that is generous .Here we are a town with an equalized tax rate of $19.09 spending two million dollars of public money to construct a sports stadium.I don't understand why 80% of the voters don't vote but the fact is they don't. If we are fortunate enough to obtain the signatures of 5 % of the registered voters,then every registered voter will be able decide .The Fin Com wants you to borrow cause the rates are low. The people who can't afford any more taxes? Let them eat cake.
Lexi May 04, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Hey Hammergjh, maybe Mister Dimento has something going here. Maybe, just maybe he is thinking about you and your family and wether you can afford to raise them here. Maybe, since he just wants a nice affordable town by the ocean to live in he sticks his neck out for people who are on the cusp of being able to afford to live in this beautiful town of ours. let's face it folks, tax wise we are sniffing rarified air compared to the other 350 cities and towns in the commonwealth.
William R. DiMento May 04, 2012 at 04:33 AM
The Town of Swampscott hired a lawyer to write the correct wording for the bonding article to build a sports stadium. It is in the possesion of the chairman of the Fin Com. I asked for a copy of this document because it is a public record so I could prepare the petitions for a referendum. The wording on the petition must be substantially the same as the language of the motion which has passed Town Meeting> The Fin Com chairman said "No,it will be in writing at the Town Meting Monday night". Mind you I am entitled as a matter of law to have a copy of that document but he can delay and make it difficult and that is what he is doing. Maybe that is another reason 80% of the people don't vote. To that tactic I thank Maya Angelou for writing: "You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
Liz May 04, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Thank you Bill for being a voice for the majority of the people in Swampscott, you have the knowledge and the drive, please keep it up, we need you....you have the voice of reason on so many of the big issues now and in the past, on behalf of those of us who believe things are out of controll, THANK YOU!!!!!
hammergjh May 04, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Yes I can afford to live here. I've been here for 20 years. What's your point. I personally don't want to live in a town that doesn't move forward and improve its infrastructure and facilities. Phillips Park is a jewel of town, don't let it turn into our "Manning Bowl".
Lexi May 05, 2012 at 04:16 PM
If you don"t get the point from my last post there"s no sense in posting it again
BigBlue4Eva May 05, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Blocksidge field needs a complete overhaul. Whether it's done with real grass or the new artificial product it needs to be completely overhauled. The stands, the press box, the scoreboard and the actual playing surface all need to be replaced. So with that being said. The best and most cost effective way to do this is to do it with the artificial surface. The days of our programs losing home games(both home field advantage and revenues from such events) should come to an end. We live in a sports rabid town and our complex at Phillips Park is both a disgrace and an eyesore. New field turf is safer to play on for our athletes and will allow football, soccer and lacrosse to play without holes in the field, uneven spots on the field and guarantee games to be played . This should be a nobrainer for all those in town. If nothing else it will allow your property values to increase thus giving you the opportunity to sell your home and move back to Cambridge with the rest of the crazies!
Lexi May 05, 2012 at 04:58 PM
thats exactly how the new high school was sold to the townspeople, (which, by the way we needed desperately ) today our values are lower and taxes are higher! better come up with a better sales pitch.
Olaf Faeskorn May 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Not sure about that, BigBlue4Eva - Isn't this exactly the Cambridge crazies' approach to keep putting any nice-to-have on the big tab? And I don't see why the young folks with little children seeking a half-way decent educational system or the elderly couple who may one day buy our house would be willing to pay a premium for my home because we build a nice stadium for some folks' jock sons and ra-ra-girl daughters (with money we don't have). The "Cambridge crazies" will be working on banning youth football pretty soon anyway, wanna bet?
TaxpayerofSwampscott May 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Where's the outrage? Selectmen are once again displaying their "public be damned" attitude toward the citizens of Swampscott. Film producers have chosen Swampscott to shoot part of the new Adam Sandler film and have held out a $20,000 carrot as the inducement. "What do they want?" you ask. Well they want to rent the former Temple Israel property for production offices and the parking lot behind Phillips Park. Now, honestly the use of the town-owned temple property is of no concern to anyone. But the film company want to park trucks and build a swinmming pool complex in the beach parking lot presumably from May to August and this is simply unacceptable. Citizens pay for the use of that parking lot by purchasing a beach sticker each year. It affords residents the use of Whales and Eiseman Beachs. Beach parking is a valuable benefit for all residents during the summer especially in light of the on-street parking restrctions in the area. I don't care how much money is involved. Our summer-time beach parking area is more important. Let the production company park their trucks in the temple lot. Let the construction company build the pool and black-out tent on temple property. Don't allow the Selectmen to give away our parking resourses. It's simply too important. Where's the outrage?????
AnotherVoice May 07, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Bety - You seem to be an intelligent person, which is why I'm baffled that you, or anyone for that matter, would assume Mr. DiMento is "a voice for the majority of the people in Swampscott". If you want to thank Mr. DiMento for voicing an opinion that YOU share with him, so be it. But please do not make the ignorant assumption that your shared opinion is the opinion shared by the majority of the people in Swampscott. You have absolutely no basis for knowing how the majority of the entire town feels.
Citizen Swamp July 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Add Salem to the list of communities that are turning to artificial turf. http://www.salemnews.com/local/x691119138/City-eyes-artificial-turf-for-Bertram-Field CS
William DiMento July 06, 2012 at 10:32 PM
And notice how they are paying for it
Citizen Swamp July 07, 2012 at 03:03 AM
WD Just about the same split as Swampscott, donations in our case, state grant for Salem with the balance from taxes. One major difference Salem renovated their bleachers/pressbox approx 20 years ago, something we chose to ignore CS
Ernie Street July 07, 2012 at 12:19 PM
The deal also requires that the Salem Rec Dept. give up oversite of the fields. Dan Strauss would never go for that. She'd be threatening a riot!
William DiMento July 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
If the more important priorities (flood , storm water control and the school situation) are addressed and the funding is a combination of State or Federal Grants matched by private donations then ,why not? The key is the money.The crushing tax burden in this Town is real.I am very aware the power people really don't care because they, simply, can afford it.The Police Station vote proves all they need is 9 .1 % of the voters to spend 8 million.Spending 2.4 million via referendum should be easy.
Blue Blue July 07, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Hey Ernie, a closer read or new glasses buddy. Here is the quote from the article. Exactly the opposite of what you say. "Bertram Field is School Department property. If the city is successful in obtaining a state grant, it may be required, under terms of the grant, to turn over control to the parks department. The issue has already been brought before the School Committee."
Ernie Street July 08, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Double B, yes the Salem Rec Dept has to turn it over to the parks dept. That means our looney Rec Director would have to turn over to the many loonies in the DPW!
Blue Blue July 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Ernie..........You are still not reading it correctly. In Salem the field is controlled by the school department. That is not the case in Swampscott. The field is already under the control of the town. What does DPW have to do with this? Ernie the only one looney here might be you because you have nothing constructive to add to this topic only taking shots at people. Trust me, if there was a considerable amount of state money coming our way it would be well worth doing the project. Town officials would do a good job managing it whichever department(s) would be involved. This is strictly a money/cost issue.
Tom Plumbley July 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I'll tell you what the DPW has to do with this. They do more harm than good. Driving a one ton dump truck across the field to empty a barrel is just plain lazy. As for the Rec Dept, who is she threatening now? It looks like the Soccer people are on her list. Please!!! Get in line, Danielle Strauss has been threatening people for years. As for being constructive, have a Stadium Commisssion to run the place. That way you eliminate the Rec Dept and the DPW who have both shown that they do a poor job.
Citizen Swamp July 08, 2012 at 09:34 PM
So it's now 60 days after Town Meeting. 1. We voted down the field renovation project. 2. We've opted to destroy 1 1/2 fields renting to the movie project. (probably won't be repaired for this fall). 3. We haven't begun any minor renovations to Phillips Park playing spaces. 4. We haven't had any public discussion of how we might apply any of our movie rental funds to the above issues. 5. My property tax bill recently received went up significantly over last quarter, (even though large capital project was voted down). 6. The Van Dam/Kessler group haven't come up with the "improvements would be better spent on failing infrastructure in town including building maintenance" projects that were cited as one of their primary reasons for opposing the Blocksidge Project. I guess we'll just let things decay a bit longer. CS
Dorothy Albert July 08, 2012 at 10:43 PM
First, I have lived near the park for 35 years. We also walk daily past there. As anyone who lives in this area knows, that the field is under water whenever we have rain. I believe that the town needs to deal with other major issues, like flooding etc .What is the cost of maintenance? How long will it last? How will the Canada geese like it? (Poop). Is it enviormently safe? There are a lot of people allergic or intolerant to materials made for artificial turf. T he infrastructure of town is more important at this time. We're building a Police station, question a new school, and lots of building going on at Humphrey St. My taxes are to high now!
Dorothy Albert July 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Right On!
Dorothy Albert July 08, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Hi, I have been going to the beach for 35 years! I walk through and past there daily. There is plenty of beach parking. Get a sticker and go there. The movie set people have been very accommodating. I was part of the original beach committee, trust me I was upset at first. I check for stickers everyday! It is quiet where the building is. I asked for more stones on the walkway because of water. I asked for the path to be cleaned up etc. What really upsets me are the town citizens who are dumping their grass and whatever else on the walk way. I pay to have mine picked up. Notice the new signs! Try to enjoy the summer and the movie makers!
Blue Blue July 09, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Tom, I was talking to Ted, I mean Ernie, are you the same guy? Any way don't we have enough boards and committees without creating a stadium commission to run one field. What about the rest of the fields? Do they run those too. I don't think eliminating existing departments and creating new commissions to take their place does anything positive for the town.
Blue Blue July 09, 2012 at 01:32 AM
You won't get anything but hot air out of the Van Dam/Kessler group. They don't really have anything of substance other than being obstructionists.
Citizen Swamp July 09, 2012 at 02:28 AM
DA Right on Dorothy? I guess we can surmise that your children are all grown up, so lets keep throwing up excuses like the environment and the Canada geese. See how a decrepit park improves your property value. An you are right the new elementary school proponents will spend your money so fast it will make your head spin. CS By the way my kids are grown up too,


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