Town Meeting Approves Turf Field, Water Treatment Plant

Town Meeting voters on Tuesday night approved spending $1.6 million to build an artificial turf athletic field. The measure now goes on the May 20 ballot for town-wide approval. 

The new turf field will be built on the south side of Falmouth High School and will be used for football, soccer and lacrosse games. Further upgrades include new bleachers, lights, concession stands, restrooms and a scoreboard. Currently, high school athletes use a fatigued grass field at the Gus Canty Community Center on Main Street.

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“This will go a long way in promoting school spirit. It’s a way to help show the kids in this town we care,” said recent Falmouth High School graduate and Precinct 3 member Rose C. Mase.

The finance committee had recommended indefinite postponement.

“No one wants to say no to kids. As parents, sometimes we have to say so if it will be a financial burden. We need to ask ourselves if this will be a financial burden later, and it will be,” said finance committee member Wendy L. Vogel.

The finance committee originally said maintenance on the turf field would cost $700,000 to $800,000, but reduced that estimate to $400,000 last night. Turf fields have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years before they need to be replaced.

The athletic field advisory committee said the project will cost $2.8 million; that includes four years of turf maintenance and an eight-year warranty. The remaining money is coming from private cash and in-kind donations.

Town Meeting members tackled the special Town Meeting warrant before they returned to the regular warrant items left over from Monday night. About halfway through the meeting, the town began grappling with the issue of replenishing the wind turbine reserve account with $300,000 from free cash.

Town Meeting members voted in favor of the article, but only after one amendment was shot down and a heated debate on whether to continue funding turbine repairs and maintenance.

Town Meeting also approved the purchase of a 21.92 acre parcel of land from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The land sits on Oyster Pond, abutting Spohr Gardens. The Community Preservation Trust will contribute $650,000 and $150,000 will be donated from OPET (Oyster Pond Environmental Trust). The board of selectmen will apply for a $400,000 state land grant.

Late into the evening, town meeting members agreed to a $46.5 million new water treatment filtration plant on Long Pond. A doubling of water rates would be used to fund half the cost and the rest will go on the tax levy, although within the limit of debt drop-off. It requires approval at the ballot box in May.

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