Dartmouth town meeting approves $1.1 million for Memorial Stadium renovations
20 October 2018
Town meeting voters used mostly $4.1 million in surplus revenues left over from the previous fiscal year to fund an ambitious $4.5 million capital needs plan for the remainder of fiscal 2019 at the annual fall town meeting Oct. 16.
The biggest single expenditure contained in the capital spending plan was $1.1 million appropriated for the first phase of renovations to the 68-year-old Dartmouth Memorial Stadium. The funding will pay for the installation of an artificial turf field, drainage improvements, and new LED lighting fixtures and electrical system upgrades for the facility.
Assistant Superintendent for Business James Kiely told the meeting that a three-phase, $1.73 million makeover of the aging stadium is planned. A second phase will address needed improvements to bathroom facilities, concession stands and walkways. The third phase of work will renovate and upgrade the visitors’ side stands.
Kiely said an architectural study indicated that the concrete seating areas on both sides of the field “are structurally sound” and do not need to be replaced.
The renovations are scheduled to start at the end of the fall sports season and be completed by the end of next summer so the playing field can be used again next fall, Kiely told the crowd.
School Committee Chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins said the stadium upgrades were planned after a town-wide study of all athletic fields in the community, and the formation of a Turf Field Committee in 2017 to specifically look at potential upgrades to the most frequently used sports site in town.
The improvements to be undertaken would make the stadium a first-class athletic facility for school teams, the high school’s award-winning marching band and youth sports organizations, Jenkins said. She and other school board members have heard plenty of community support for the project, she added.
Precinct 4 representative Jim Costa noted that the plans do not address the big problem of the lack of parking around the stadium, nor the limited amount of seating available. Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said town officials will probably bring a proposal for additional parking areas behind the stadium to the spring town meeting.
Precinct 1 representative Robert Enos said he recognized the need for some improvements, but felt that nearly $1 million for artificial turf and field drainage improvements was too much to spend. He suggested the town stick with natural turf instead, but found little support for that position.