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Artificial turf likely for Hingham High multi-purpose field

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 17, 2012 02:34 PM

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While Hingham School Committee members are still unsure if the new multi-purpose field at the high school will have lights, one thing seems clear: the field should have artificial turf.

The issue of turf, lighting, traffic, and concessions have been debated since the project received $275,000 from October’s Town Meeting to plan the project. And although debate rages on about several aspects of the field, school officials have their eyes set on artificial turf.

The field, which would be used by several sports at Hingham High, is part of an overhaul of the high school’s athletic facilities, which started with a renovation of the tennis courts for $60,000, and replacement of the running track for $447,000.

Both projects were finished at the start of the school year.

The next step is to construct a multi-purpose field on the site of the practice football field at Hingham High.

Funding for the project will be requested at April Town Meeting in 2013, but before that happens, school committee members have to determine the price.

The committee is planning to request artificial turf.

“. . . at this point, we’re one of two schools in our league that doesn’t have synthetic,” said Caryl Falvey, chair of the School Committee. “One person pointed out, when you have all the Ivy league schools and most of the colleges and professional athletes performing on synthetic turf, you know it's not bad for them. They wouldn’t subject their bodies to that.”

Specific cost for artificial turf won’t be finalized until the town goes out to bid in February, however generally, artificial turf costs $800,000, Falvey said.

According to Falvey, debate about the turf on the field was minimal at a community meeting for the project held on Sept. 12. Yet other concerns are still paramount.

In terms of traffic around the new field, the Hingham Police Department has been working on a plan to reconfigure the area, Falvey said.

“Chief [Michael] Peraino in charge of parking and he spoke [at the community meeting]. We have been working very hard with the police department and the parents of children [about] all the issues of parking on Union Street and not using designated spaces,” Falvey said. “Chief Peraino was able to discuss the plans and recommendations he had made to improve parking, and it allayed a lot of fears. And I think its great to know – everyone wants to know we’re working together on solving some of these issues.”

The issue of lighting is also still up for discussion.

“Our choices of lighting are only two: tall lights, which are better for the neighbors because you can direct it directly down so there won’t be radiant light … [or] we could go short, but short lights don’t work for lacrosse, because then they are glaring in the player’s eyes, which isn’t safe,” Falvey said. “Those are the only two options, but the only option [we have] is we have lights or we don’t. It would be tall if we did, It’s better for the neighborhood and the players.”

The Ad Hoc Fields Committee will make its recommendations for the design of a field on Monday night, and explain those recommendations to the School Committee on Sept. 24.

From there, the School Committee will make a recommendation to the town in order to request funding for the project at Town Meeting in April 2013.

Although it’s been a long process, Falvey said things have started to move swiftly, and hopefully the community will continue to be involved as things progress.

“The more people we hear from, the better decisions we make and the better product in the end offer everybody,” she said.

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