Dear parents and families of youth athletes and Somerville athletes of all ages,
As many of you likely know, after an intensive community process and careful review, our final plans for the renovation of Lincoln Park Field include a grass field rather than a synthetic turf field. To maintain best practices for grass field maintenance, sports usage of the field will have to be reduced once the field is complete, but I want to assure you that we are at work to ensure that your current and growing needs for field time will be met through new locations for games and practices.
Access to open space and safe, high-quality fields is not a luxury, but a critical public good essential to our community’s health and wellbeing and especially the development of our youth. Our youth and adult athletes, must have high-quality and safe fields to play on, and every effort is being made to fulfill this need.
At the same time, as we invest in field upgrades and new fields, we must work both to intensify our field maintenance efforts as well as commit to protecting those fields by reducing use to sustainable levels based on hard data and industry standards. This means we must increase field capacity going forward both through the use of synthetic turf as well as new lighting for underused grass fields. We must also gain access to or establish new fields.
For the short-term, the City has secured field access at TuftsUniversity to maintain current capacity, and we are in discussions for longer-term, expanded use of their fields. We are also working with the State to quickly make improvements to their Draw 7 field and repurpose Dilboy Auxiliary. In addition, Medford has agreed to provide temporary field access to accommodate growing demand.
For the long-term, field improvements will be guided by priorities and practices laid out in our Fields Master Plan, which will be shared with the community in March at public meetings. Building upon sound planning principles, the Fields Master Plan is based on community input and study results received in recent years including via Somerville by Design: Green Spaces/Community Places meetings, the Recreational Fields Task Force, the Gale Fields Report, the multi-year Lincoln Park planning process, and data on actual field usage and permit requests. The data is particularly informative and will be shared at the plan presentation, which I hope you will attend.
I want to be clear that there was a compelling argument for grass at Lincoln Park. However, the citywide field use data clearly show that to meet our significant and growing field demand, while adhering to best practices for field usage, synthetic turf will be required at other, more suitable locations. The City of course will select only safe and high-quality turf, for which fortunately there are several recommendable options. There will be costs involved and some complicated and possibly contentious decisions to make, but we will persevere to ensure our community’s athletic needs are served. I look forward to sharing our Master Fields Plan with you as we continue this process.