Snyder's Sandwich: Does Sandwich Need More Recreation Space?

Mark SnyderGENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - Mark Snyder

The Town of Sandwich spent $23,400 to have a study done on recreational planning for the Sandwich Hollows Golf Club area. Last week, a few dozen interested residents turned out to hear Eric Roise, a landscape architect from Gale Associates, deliver his 16-page community outreach presentation.  Selectmen Ralph Vitacco, John Kennan, Frank Pannorfi, and Susan James were in attendance, as was assistant town manager Doug Lapp, who has taken the lead in the efforts of the town to deliver more recreational facilities to its residents, along with town manager Bud Dunham, and the board of selectmen.

Sandwich Hollows was purchased by the town in 1999, and was part of an open space and recreation plan that year. In 2011, the Massachusetts State Legislature changed the law to allow active and passive recreation on town-owned golf courses. That opened the door for this 2014 study by Gale Associates. Things are wide open. Everything is on the table.

The Town of Sandwich is looking for groups and organizations that might want to build fields for their own particular sport, using private money. For instance, a world-class croquet court was built adjacent to the Sandwich Hollows clubhouse, using private funding.

Roise told the crowd, and a TV audience, that “We’re in the listening stage. There is a survey online, and we are gathering community input. There will be another outreach meeting in May for additional suggestions.”

He explained that after the May meeting, the input from both outreach sessions, and the online survey will be “put into effect through the use of early sketches.” The last study done of the town’s ball fields was conducted in 2007.  This established needs and resulted in this recreational study by Gale Associates. Comprehensive plans were presented in 2009. It was found there were 5,391 participants on town fields. Twenty-two of the 28 fields in town were found to be “overused.” Adds Roise, “So, we are currently evaluating the unused portions of the golf course to see if they can support the needs of the community for additional recreational facilities, or a multi-use “destination” community park. We’d like to see more use out of the property.” The 2009 plan calculated a need for: three Little League/softball diamonds, one Babe Ruth baseball diamond, and two multi-purpose synthetic fields. Sandwich Hollows was one of four sites identified as being possible locations.

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Roise said that Gale Associates will also do advocacy for funding. “There are permitting, access concerns, and infrastructure like water and sewers,” he said.  “We’ll be working from start to finish on this project.”

Selectman James was hoping for walking trails for the disabled and a focus on other things besides sports. Lois Wallace said that “older folks” played “pickle ball” and that the courts they built at Oakcrest Cove are packed. “We get 25 to 30 people and only eight can play at a time,” Wallace added.  She said that four pickle ball courts fit on an average tennis court.

Many folks cited the horrid weather on Cape, especially in the winter, for thinking about an indoor-type facility, or a “bubble.” But, Donna Wilcuts had another idea. “Why don’t we spend our money on sidewalks and bike paths, rather than on more fields? It’s a luxury we cannot afford. The best use of this facility is to sell it.”

Outgoing selectman John Kennan voiced, “I don’t want to see big money spent unless there’s a revenue stream involved. Perhaps we could have fee-based field use.” Others cited Simsberry Farms Golf Course in Connecticut, which combines housing and recreation, saying perhaps Sandwich Hollows could be made into a type of resort. David Jepson, president of Sandwich Soccer Club, said his league brings in 200 teams in the summer for a tournament. “If we could build fields here, and hold the tournaments in Sandwich, it would help all businesses in town,” Jepson told the crowd.

Harry the Rescue Dog was unable to make the meeting, but a dog park would be a wonderful addition to the Town of Sandwich.  Private funds could be raised for it, as was done in Falmouth. However, I’m hearing that one is already planned for another part of town. I’ll let you know when I get confirmation.

Current fields are at the Wing School, Forestdale School, Sandwich High, Oak Ridge School, and the Pop Warner field. Those involved in this recreation project include the offices of the town planner, town manager, recreation, DPW/engineering, natural resources, and golf department.

Assistant town manager Doug Lapp spoke with Snyder’s Sandwich about the project. He’d like to see more groups develop fields there. He says, “An example of where it’s worked well is the Pop Warner Fields on town-owned land. There has been zero cost to the taxpayer. The Little League built two lit fields at the Wing School. The soccer fields in the government-owned water district are another example. When it comes to ball fields for particular type of sports, that kind of model will work well. They can build and maintain the fields. Soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, football, and other sports fit that mold. In addition to that, there are other groups who want things like pickle ball. They may not be as well organized or have the resources, but we could work with them. A public-private partnership of an indoor-outdoor place probably isn’t going to work at the gold course. For the golf land, we can lease it out for recreational purposes. It could be for a ball field, or something bigger. The bigger, for-profit facilities would make more sense in the Golden Triangle, rather than in the golf course.”

Mashpee and Dennis have small facilities with a little bit of everything, and something for all ages. Something like that might work here, according to Lapp.  There’s really no park in Sandwich, where everything is brought together. That might make sense.  

Lapp adds, “When you have land, Article 97 prevents you from changing it. We needed to go to Town Meeting, and then the Legislature to get it expanded to all active recreation, rather than just golf. The law didn’t go far enough to allow hotels or other businesses. They also won’t allow us to have solar panels or wind turbines there. The Golden Triangle is a perfect area for something more business oriented, or the industrial area near the Marina.”

William Burbank, an original member of the golf committee appointed by the board of selectmen, told Snyder’s Sandwich, “Whether it is Sandwich Hollows Golf Club or other lands to the west, we need to make better decisions and reassess how the land may provide the much needed tax revenue and relief to taxpayers in Sandwich. As a member of the planning board, whose structure will change starting next month, I hope to see better use of the word/meaning of land planning. As a former land planner, development advocate and landscape architect, I believe in my heart that among the crowd there last week, I have been steady in my efforts to advocate for the best land uses related to recreation on that property. When appointed (by BOS) to the Golf Advisory Committee 20 years ago, we were pro-active because we generated a team approach with professional experience from town citizens. We tend to forget the investments made and progress started several years ago.” It’s important for people with the knowledge of the land’s history—like Burbank—to be part of a group that will do the planning.

What do YOU think should go on the Sandwich Hollows golf course? E-mail me at snyderssandwich@aol.com for a future article. You can contribute by taking the survey!  Go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/Sandwich-Recreational-Survey.  Incidentally, the Sandwich Hollows golf course got excellent reviews on Yelp, as a fun, 18-hole affordable course, with an excellent lunch and dinner facility.  Check it out!
Mark Snyder, who has written more than 1,870 articles in newspapers and magazines, and published three books, is the CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the Internet’s entertainment superstation, and snyderssandwich.com, a local community website. Have a story idea? He can be reached by e-mail at snyderssandwich@aol.com, on Facebook (Snyder’s Stoughton), and on Twitter (MediaMan2009). Write him via snail mail at Box 639, East Sandwich, MA 02537.

RUMBLINGS AROUND TOWN

WANT TO LEARN TO FLYFISH?  A fly fishing school, sponsored by Cape Cod Trout Unlimited, will be held on Friday, May 16, though Sunday, May 18, at the YMCA Camp Burgess in Sandwich. All instructions, food, and lodging are included for only $275 ($350 for a teen and an adult). To register, or for more information, phone John Griener at 410-991-3971 or e-mail him at CCTUflyfish@aol.com. Additional information may be obtained at www.capecodtu.org

LOOKING TO UPGRADE YOUR IMAGE? As a service of the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce, businesses will be able to upgrade their business images with a new photo on their business cards, online profiles, and on social media platforms. Working with Sutherland Visual Media, professional head shots will be available to Sandwich-area businesses. The 30-minute sessions will take place on Saturday, May 3, and on Monday, May 5.  Rates are $99 for Sandwich chamber members, and $125 for nonmembers. The fee includes a small digital file, and an 8-by-10-inch print. Additional prints are available at additional cost. To schedule a portrait session, call 508-789-1897.  I have been prohibited from calling, to protect their photographic equipment.

THIS WEEKEND---RONAN TYNAN! DON’T MISS HIM---What a magnificent voice! Ronan Tynan, one of the original Irish tenors, is a story of courage.  Ronan lost both legs in an accident at age 20. Between 1981 and 1984 he had garnered 18 gold metals and set 14 world records at Disabled Game meets. At age 30, he took up singing. Not long after, he signed with Sony Dublin and his debut album hit #1. Looking for inspiration? Look no further. Ronan, himself, said, “I want people to realize that regardless of what infirmity or disability, it should never stop you doing what you want to do. You can make your mind strong enough to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. Make a deal with yourself to take risks, because when you do and it comes out right, boy it’s some buzz!” The survivors of the Boston Marathon have had this same courageous outlook.

Ronan will perform at Sandwich High School on Sunday, April 27, from 3 to 5 PM as part of Sandwich’s 375th Anniversary celebration. Tickets range from $29 to $69.  They are available at Momo’s in East Sandwich, Splash in Sandwich Village, and online at www.sandwich375.com/ronan-tynan

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