Fields plan presented to town council, no action taken

Barrington council discusses various aspects of plan, including turf

By Josh Bickford
Posted 1/11/22

Members of the Barrington Town Council officially accepted the multi-page plan created by the Ad Hoc Athletic Fields Advisory Committee during Monday night’s meeting, but it’s not clear …

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Fields plan presented to town council, no action taken

Barrington council discusses various aspects of plan, including turf

Posted

Members of the Barrington Town Council officially accepted the multi-page plan created by the Ad Hoc Athletic Fields Advisory Committee during Monday night’s meeting, but it’s not clear whether they will do anything with it.

Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll and other councilors praised the work of the 15-member ad hoc committee. Mr. Carroll said the council was not going to decide that night whether to put in a turf field in town, adding that the location eyed by the ad hoc committee was not even under the council’s jurisdiction. 

He said it was just good to have the information.

That sentiment apparently did not sit well with ad hoc committee member Thomas “TR” Rimoshytus. During Monday night’s discussion, Mr. Rimoshytus asked multiple times for the council to set a date for a joint meeting with members of the Barrington School Committee to discuss moving the plan forward. 

Mr. Carroll replied, stating that the council did not have jurisdiction and suggested Mr. Rimoshytus take his request to members of the school committee to see if there was interest with that group. Mr. Carroll said he did not see a benefit in having another meeting, but added that if Mr. Rimoshytus wanted to pursue the action, then to go for it. 

Earlier in the discussion, former town council member Steve Boyajian, who served on the ad hoc committee, offered a detailed account of the ad hoc committee’s report. Mr. Boyajian spoke about Haines Park and the possible reconfiguration of the athletic fields there. He also discussed the committee’s idea of having the youth sports leagues in town use the same field scheduling software as the high school, as it would allow for a more seamless connection and reduce the potential for scheduling conflicts. 

A bulk of the discussion was focused on artificial turf. 

Mr. Boyajian spoke about the committee’s research into the cost, environmental considerations, health and safety issues and other aspects of artificial turf. He also shared information about how the committee chose the possible location for turf in town (a 380,000 square foot section of Barrington High School property running from Federal Road south to the residential properties on Lincoln Avenue). 

Mr. Boyajian also said the high school baseball coaching staff did not want to play on artificial turf and that doing so increases the chance of injuries for his athletes. He said the committee had researched studies about possible higher rates of injuries for athletes playing on artificial turf. Mr. Boyajian added that some studies revealed fewer injuries on turf — he said it appeared that the studies varied widely when it came to injuries on turf and there was very little agreement among the studies. 

Player preference, however, seemed to indicate that the world’s elite athletes much preferred to play on high quality natural grass fields and not artificial turf. Mr. Boyajian referenced a letter from the NFL Players Association which shared that same point.

Mr. Boyajian said it was hard to get away from the fact that the plan called for a very large amount of plastic being put down on the high school property. 

It’s a ton of plastic, Mr. Boyajian said. “It’s a value judgment.”

Ad hoc committee members spoke in favor of the turf. Mr. Rimoshytus spoke about the possibility of using recyclable turf. BHS boys soccer coach Don Denham said youth sports would benefit from the turf and that there would be a financial opportunity for the town to rent the surface to other organizations. 

Resident Scott Pickering said making more significant changes to Haines Park — adding more fields and improving parking — would solve the field crisis in Barrington. He said adding turf at the high school should be a school district initiative — if the schools want it, they should make a plan and then bring that plan to the council.

He said the council does not need to push turf to solve the youth sports fields issues.

Later in the meeting, resident and youth sports coach Will LoVerme spoke about the fields issue. He said field availability for youth sports teams is an issue. He spoke about how the town often closes its athletic fields (a practice that is done to preserve the playing surfaces because of wet weather). Mr. LoVerme said closing the fields makes it difficult for the coaches and is not good for the mental health of youngsters who need athletics as an outlet. 

Council Rob Humm asked about possibly improving the Chianese Park fields, but Mr. Rimoshytus said there were restrictions in doing so because the field is built on top of a capped landfill. Officials also said that making more significant changes at Haines Park was not possible, as the state controls the property and officials told the town outright that they could not do more there. 

Toward the end of the discussion, Councilor Jacob Brier, who also served on the ad hoc committee, spoke about a shift in paying for field maintenance. He said the group discussed moving away from a per player field use fee to a field rental fee, based on how much time the fields would be used by the different leagues. He also said the committee discussed fund-raising and sponsorship opportunities if the town chose to construct new fields.

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