Artificial Turf Athletic Field Project Alive In Falmouth

Organizers behind the effort to build a multi-use artificial turf athletic field in Falmouth said they plan on moving forward and hope to bring the project to April Town Meeting.

“It’s not dead. We’ve decided we need to listen to the community and find out why they think it did not pass,” said Karen L. Bissonnette, chairman of the citizen group, the All Purpose Community Athletic Field Advisory Committee.

Ms. Bissonnette and Barbara P. Schneider, who recently joined the advisory committee, were before the community preservation committee on August 14 updating members on the project’s status. The community preservation committee (CPC) had awarded the turf proponents $250,000 for this project, which was rejected 4,911 to 2,357 at the May ballot. They called the organizers in to see if the project was dormant or had been downsized, to discern if all or part of that money could be applied to current project applications.

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“We’re committed to the original project unless we hear differently from the community,” Ms. Schneider said.

The project presented to this past April’s Town Meeting members was for $1.6 million to build at Falmouth High School a turf field, lighting, fencing, bleachers, concession stand, bathrooms, a grass practice field and a score board. The remainder of the $2.8 million project funding came from grants, donations, and in-kind gifts.

Ms. Bissonnette said there are “many consequences if we don’t do the project as proposed.”

She said the high school would not be able to move its football program to Falmouth High School. “We couldn’t do lockers rooms and would not have the practice field that we would need to make sure all the fall sports could happen.”

She also said if they were to pursue a downsized project, they still can use the entire $250,000 for field drainage, fencing, and lighting.

Community Preservation Act rules do not allow the funds to be used for the actual turf surface.

The advisory committee will meet with parents, PTO members and other groups to see why it did not pass and be ready in January for next April’s Town Meeting. Ms. Bissonnette asked the CPC to extend the grant until January.

“We’re trying to be really realistic and the only way to do this is to go back and find out what needs to be changed or better communicated,” Ms. Schneider said.

Ms. Bissonnette said there was conflicting information about the project at the time of the town vote.

“There was a lot of misinformation and confusion, and erroneous information from the newspaper.”

She added that after the defeat in May, she received e-mails from people saying they thought it would pass and did not vote.

CPC member Patti B. Haney said that per the letter of agreement, the organizers have the funds until end of November; therefore they could not be used this CPC funding round and saw “no problem” with extending the funds until January.

CPC chairman Ralph E. Herbst said the committee they will take this up at its next meeting. 

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