Parks & Rec roundup: Turf fields to engage consultant; dog park in home stretch; Upper Charles Trail expansion endorsed

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The Parks & Recreation Commission discussed multiple projects at its meeting on Wednesday, including the Fruit Street fields replacement, the dog park project and the Upper Charles Trail.

Kathy Hervol of Gale Associates presented a proposal to consult on the replacement of the synthetic turf and infill at the Fruit Street fields. Gale Associates has completed more than 200 field projects, including the high school fields.

Hervol detailed the proposed services, which would include design development and review, conditions evaluation, vendor coordination, bidding assistance and construction monitoring. Hervol estimates replacement would require approximately six weeks.

Since the turf fields are within buffer zones of wetlands, Hervol recommended submitting a request for determination to the Conservation Commission, but she does not anticipate any issues as minimal ground disturbance would be required for the project.

Gale and Associates also would observe GMAX (a measure of a surface’s hardness) and HIC (head injury criterion) testing to ensure specifications are met in order to reduce the risk of concussions for athletes.

The commission voted to engage Gale and Associates on the first phase of the proposal, which may include developing new base plans for design, providing cost estimates, verifying existing conditions and evaluating for issues related to drainage and settlement.

Dog park project enters home stretch

Parks & Recreation Department Director Jay Guelfi reported that the dog park is “getting into the home stretch” and anticipates the project will be ready for a soft opening in the coming weeks. A grand opening may be held in the spring after the installation of the gazebo.

The park’s final paving was completed Wednesday, and trees have been planted on the perimeter. Loam has been put down, and hydroseeding is to be completed next week.

Upper Charles Trail Committee gets support

Jane Moran of the Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) presented plans for extended trails near EMC Park and Marathon School. Moran described the Upper Charles Trail as a five-town commitment that includes Hopkinton, Holliston, Milford, Sherborn and Ashland. If fully developed, it would amount to a 27-35-mile loop that would connect abandoned rail trails.

“We feel like, even if we cannot get the final connecting pieces … this will be a valuable connection for the town and for the school to give us a whole loop that the school kids can use,” Moran said.

Moran explained that the group is seeking grant money for the project and would benefit from the endorsement of the Parks & Recreation Commission. The commission voted to endorse UCTC’s plans to apply for a Community Preservation Committee (CPC) grant for the purpose of conducting further engineering studies to expand the trail.