$10 million Scituate High field renovation proposed
6 December 2018
An estimated $10 million price tag has some selectmen raising doubts about plans for an ambitious overhaul of the Scituate High School athletic complex that would include three synthetic turf fields, LED lighting and a new concession building with restrooms.
Mark Nova, whose landscape architecture firm, Activitas, has a $404,000 contract with the town to design the new sports complex, presented an engineering study Tuesday for a project that calls for expanding the current track to regulation size, adding a turf field to give space to the softball and field hockey teams, reorienting the baseball field, installing a new press box and making the complex handicap accessible, along with other upgrades. But it was the cost of the project that got selectmen’s attention.
“This is great, a long time coming, but of course we have concerns. . . It’s really all about financing,” Selectman Maura Curran said. “We know this needs to be done, but (cost) is a pretty big elephant in the room. Where, in these line items, can we dial it back without compromising?”
“This is the best we can do at the moment,” Novak answered. “Next time we are before you, we hope that number is lower.”
Novak says the project would address several Title IX gender-equity problems in the school’s athletics program, such as female softball players being bused across town to play while male baseball players have their games at the school. He said it would also fix a laundry list of issues in town, including not being able to host track meets because of the non-regulation track and having nowhere for the field hockey team to safely play.
“Field hockey is one of the fasting-growing sports in Scituate,” Novak said. “The field that was designated for field hockey, Cushing Field — well, we all know about its issues with water retention and drainage. The MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) said it shouldn’t be used for field hockey until that is fixed, so that is something we are working into our plan.”
The plan also includes maintaining the current ropes course near the woods, installing storage sheds, sloping berms and LED, energy-efficient lighting. The baseball and softball fields would be built into full-sized, regulation fields for lacrosse, soccer and field hockey.
The track is currently built up to the edge of protected wetlands, but the new one would be angled slightly to move the southern portion towards the woods and give the wetlands more of a buffer. The current turf inside the track would be ripped out and replaced, a project that Novak estimates would cost about $660,000.
“Replacing the field as it is now doesn’t make a lot of since because our current track is not regulation,” Novak said. “Last year, our high school held one track meet on the field, and there are no plans to hold anymore. One, because it isn’t regulation, and two, because it’s unsafe. . . The conditions of the current field are, for lack of a better word, interesting.”
Selectman Karen Canfield said she was concerned about parking. The new plan adds two new fields, but doesn’t add any spaces to the parking area, which would actually lose three or four spaces.
“The challenge is that there is no space to add parking unless we’re impacting some of the wetlands,” Novak said. “It’s going to come down to scheduling in terms of when and how we’re using the facility.”
The project would need approval from residents at town meeting before any work could be done. In the last five years, Scituate town meeting voters have approved more than $77 million in property tax increases for a new middle school, library and public safety complex.