Town Meeting plays ball with Sprague Field

By Samantha Fields, Townsman Staff

Thu Apr 03, 2008, 01:18 PM EDT

Wellesley – A year after narrowly voting Cheap generic viagra down the installation of artificial turf at Sprague in a hotly contested debate, Town Meeting voted Tuesday night in support of the new Sprague Field Master Plan.

The new plan, which will allow the town to meet the June 2009 remediation deadline set by the state, includes the installation of two synthetic turf fields and three natural grass fields at Sprague. All five will be multiuse fields.
“I think many people in town are excited about this plan for many different reasons,” said task force Chairman and School Committee member Chris Guiffre. “Few people are excited about the remediation … but it’s a necessary evil.”
The first step in the remediation process is to remove the topsoil on the fields to eliminate debris. The remediation area will then be leveled, and geotextile fabric will be placed on the sub-grade to act as a physical barrier and prevent more undesired material (such as glass or metal) from rising to the surface. Ultimately, the viagra online canada fields will be brought up to grade by putting down 18 or more inches of “select, clean, free-draining materials,” Guiffre said.

Unlike the artificial turf proposed last year, the synthetic fields approved this week by Town Meeting will not be made of tire crumb — a major factor for the many parents and residents who last year expressed serious concern over health and environmental hazards connected to loose tire crumb. Instead they will use an infill made of thermoplastic elastomers, or TPE. Approved by the Natural Resources Commission, the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project and the Department of Health, TPE is made of a combination of plastic and rubber, and is widely viewed as a safer alternative to tire crumb.

Following last year’s Town Meeting, Guiffre said, the task force reconvened and refocused on addressing a three-part challenge: accomplishing the required remediation on time; taking lessons from the debate (and loss) at Town Meeting; and using the remediation as an opportunity to address the town’s unmet need for additional playing fields.
To that end, the task force expanded, adding representatives from a variety of town boards and constituencies, including the health department and the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project. The result was a dramatically different plan, one that pulled ideas and feedback from residents, abutters, parents, town officials and consultants.
In addition to the fields, the master plan includes a new playground for the Sprague School, to be paid for by the Sprague PTO; a 12-foot plowable path that will provide for emergency access to the fields and allow students to walk to school; a field house; a drop-off line for the school; and a new, enlarged and handicapped-accessible kindergarten meadow. A natural grass field will border the Sprague School, and there will be no permanent lights, scoreboards or stands installed on site.

Several residents and town officials who had been staunchly opposed to last year’s proposal spoke out in support of the new plan. Former Selectman David Himmelberger, a Town Meeting member and Sprague parent, said he supported the article “wholeheartedly,” and praised the process as “a first-rate model of inclusiveness and consideration.”

After very little discussion, Town Meeting members voted overwhelmingly in support of the master plan, and three separate appropriations — of town funds, Community Preservation Committee funds and private fundraising — to fund the nearly $4 million project. Then the entire auditorium broke out in applause.

Town Meeting also voted Tuesday night in support of the library and school budgets, and approved the appropriation of funds for the Municipal Light Plant; for water and sewer programs at the Board of Public Works; and $475,000 for the purchase of a new fire truck and related equipment.