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:
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.
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.