Parks & Rec roundup: Turf fields to have ad hoc committee; dog park makes progress; Town Common trees to be removed

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At its meeting Tuesday, the Parks & Recreation Commission discussed several ongoing projects, including the repair and replacement of the Fruit Street turf fields, progress made on the dog park, the removal of Town Common trees and the development of pickleball courts.

Fruit Street fields replacement plans pending

The commission voted to create an ad hoc committee to review proposals for replacing the Fruit Street fields turf. The committee will involve primary stakeholders, with potential members including youth soccer, lacrosse and football representatives as well as school maintenance staff.

While turf replacement decisions are pending, the commissioners agreed that the fields must be repaired and maintained. They postponed a consultant hiring decision as several questions were raised about costs and options. The commission intends to meet with consultants next week to continue moving the decision process forward.

In a previous assessment, Tom Irwin Advisors reported that the fields’ conditions were in the C to C- range and, with proper maintenance, could be used safely for another 18 months. Commissioners compared the current situation to a dying car that needs to be serviced but soon will end up in the scrapyard. In consulting with experts, Chair Dan Terry noted, “I’m concerned about the safety things. … I’d rather have someone keep an eye on that while we’re keeping this car running.”

In terms of future replacement, Terry also had safety in mind. “I don’t think that when we go through this process with stakeholders and with people who are using the fields that we’re going to want to build this field using 2009 technology,” he said. “I really think that we’re going to go towards the safer [options] — in terms of safer chemicals on the field, not the crushed-up tires, and safer in terms of the shock pad.”

The commission also discussed that fast-tracking the project by putting it in next year’s budget could potentially reduce costs, as the price of materials and labor are not expected to decrease in the coming years. Due to COVID-19 delays that are lifting, many other communities are in the process of starting or restarting similar projects, which could result in additional backlogs that would not allow the turf replacement to be fast-tracked, even if desired.

Dog park nears completion

Parks & Recreation Department Director Jay Guelfi hopes to have the dog park finished by Columbus Day weekend, but recent rain has delayed progress, and an official opening has not yet been set. Guelfi estimates that the project will have a surplus of $50,000.

Rice stone recently was placed at the site, and most of the infrastructure is in place. The last piece to go up will be the gazebo, which will not be available until January. Flowers, trees and natural rocks also will be added to the park.

Damaged trees to be removed due to safety concerns

The commission voted unanimously on an amendment to pay the invoice for the removal of three severely damaged trees and the pruning of several others for the purpose of public safety on the Town Common. Guelfi said that the work ideally will be completed before the Boston Marathon on Oct. 11.

In addition to emergency concerns, the commission discussed the need for long-term tree maintenance planning and the integration of expert opinions. Over the coming years, tree removal, replacement and pruning will be necessary across Hopkinton.

Pickleball court proposals in progress

Guelfi reports that two proposals are in progress for potential pickleball courts on the Irvine-Todaro property on Hayden Rowe Street or off Fruit Street. The proposals will be submitted to the Community Preservation Committee for consideration and could include the development of up to eight pickleball courts.