Proposal For New Athletic Facilities Clears First Hurdle
Though there is still controversy, plans to build new athletic facilities in the town moved forward Monday night at the annual town meeting. The $3.9 million plan put forward by the Park Department would feature a new football facility with turf field and seating for 800 spectators. The plan also provides an eight lane track and field facility, and would modernize Bicentennial Park on Lower Reed St. by adding two new softball fields and a soccer field in between. Baseball games will still be played at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
A new sports complex would benefit Rockland’s youth and high school sports immensely for generations to come, but some local veterans are opposed to the idea as it is now laid out. Because of the construction of the new complex, two veterans’ memorials in the area would have to be relocated. The veterans say that they are not against the new fields but are disappointed that they were not included in the planning.
Representing the veterans, Jeff Najarian said the softball field that would be relocated is dedicated to a Vietnam veteran. He also said that the pine trees called the Groves that would have to be displaced are also dedicated to veterans. Speaking for the plan Parks Commission member Steven Murphy said that the memorials could be relocated and the new fields could be rededicated. Murphy also said that the plans are not set in stone, but that the softball field by Memorial Park would have to be relocated to make room for the new facility.
After discussion from several townspeople who spoke both for and against the plan, the proposal was put to a vote and was passed by town meeting, allowing the plan to go to the next step, a special town election. This election will be held on June 11 when the public will vote on the $3.9 million debt exclusion that would fund the new sports facilities.
A community group called Rockland Fields Project has been formed and have a Facebook page. They have announced that an informational meeting to discuss the fields project will be held on Wednesday May 11th, 7pm at the Harmon Club on Concord Street. There will also be a meeting with all local veterans to discuss the replanting of trees, covered pavillion in the memorial area and rededication of the softball fields at 6pm, also at the Harmon Club. A post on the Facebook page states, “All are encouraged to attend so that together we can have a project that the whole town will be proud of.”
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