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Heavily used Foss Park soccer field largely remains a dirt patch

Posted by  May 5, 2014 03:25 PM

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Samuel Evers

The soccer field at Somerville’s Foss Park is used so consistently that it can’t be reseeded with grass and remains a patch of dirt. Efforts to get funding for artificial turf have so far been unsuccessful.

Springtime in Somerville means that every inch of every park is being used in some way. From the first 50 degree day in March to the first snowfall in November, a range of residents occupy fields and courts, dribbling, kicking and swinging from summer deep into the fall.

No other park embodies this like Foss Park, and perhaps no area in the city is used more than the park’s soccer field — so seldom out of use over the years that it has been nothing more than a patch of dirt for a long time.

Though the field serves many purposes, it is most consistently used by a 14-team, predominately Latino soccer league that plays there every Sunday from March to September.

The problem: If the field is being used for every opportunity possible, there is no time to reseed it.

“It’s very frustrating because that field is used for everything, not just soccer,” said Kevin Montiel, a 21-year-old member of the league. “Playing on a rock and dirt field is awful and dangerous. Everyone complains, but we can’t do much until the city improves the park.”

According to Peter Ungar, president of Friends of Foss Park, a group dedicated to the upkeep of the park, there is lack of communication between his group and the soccer league, and the majority of complaints have come from other citizens via the Foss Park Facebook page.

While there has been no official attempt to regrow grass on the field, an effort has been made to confront and fix the issue.

“We did put in a huge effort several years ago to get funding from the state to redo the field with synthetic turf,” said Ungar, who estimated the total price to restore the field at $2 million. “But then we hit the financial crisis and all the money disappeared. There hasn't been anything substantial since then.”

Tony Arias, an outreach coordinator for the Somerville Recreation Department who is involved in the Latino community, echoed Ungar’s idea to install a turf field.

“To fully serve the community, it needs to be redone,” said Arias. “Unless they restrict the field [to regrow grass], the field has to be turf.”

Arias, who said there has been talk from the city about fixing the field but little action, noted the appreciation the community at Foss Park would show for an all turf soccer field.

“The Latino league already has such a great community feeling and family environment,” said Arias. “The city has no idea how many more people and programs they will have there” if artificial turf is installed at the field.

Recent efforts to patch up the eyesore hasn’t created much improvement.

“For now, the dust field is something we have to accept,” said Ungar. “Our main goal at this point is to have the City of Somerville take over the park and restore it to the standards the city has with its open green spaces.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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