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Parks & Rec roundup: Safety concerns raised about Pyne Field redesign

by | Mar 24, 2023 | Featured: News, News

Pyne Field

Parks & Rec wants to get more use out of Pyne Field, off Fruit Street. PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

The Parks & Recreation Commission at its hybrid meeting Thursday evening discussed concerns about traffic safety once Pyne Field is reconfigured, pending a $1 million funding request that will be voted upon at Annual Town Meeting on May 1.

Amy and Josh Brassard, the owners of J.B. Sawmill and Landclearing Inc., spoke about their fears that children running to the field could potentially be hit by the 18-wheelers heading into their company property, which abuts the field on Fruit Street.

Chair Dan Terry explained that the proposed redesign, which is in the conceptual stages, will take most of the current parking lot and the current Little League field and convert the 253-acre parcel into a smaller Little League field and a cricket pitch, which will be 330 feet in diameter. Baseball and softball currently are played at the site, and softball still would be able to be played there with the new design.

Over the past few years, residents have advocated for a cricket pitch in town because of the skyrocketing popularity of the sport here. There currently are five teams in the local cricket league with 140 active members who live at Legacy Farms.

The Community Preservation Committee approved a $1 million request for design, engineering and construction of the project to go before Town Meeting. Gale Associates completed a preliminary design review. Earlier in the week, Director Jay Guelfi said he and Terry toured the site with Gale staff to gain additional perspectives on how the field would be laid out and how to accommodate parking.

Terry explained that most of the existing parking lot would be fenced. Parking is going to be created across the street by the field on the lower level, with stairs proposed to get up to the field. The slope may be graded. There would be an entryway for cars to drop off players and then go back onto Fruit Street to seek parking.

“Why wouldn’t you just put the cricket field down below with the parking lot there?” asked Josh Brassard. “Our concern is the number of people that potentially are going to be crossing the street.”

“Please understand,” stressed Amy Brassard. “You’re coming around the corner up a hill. We obviously have tractor-trailer trucks. We don’t have little cars that can stop on a dime.”

She also didn’t think it was practical for parents to be lugging strollers up the stairs.

Josh Brassard said that the sight lines would need to be improved at the entrance.

Guelfi explained that these concerns will be addressed by various town departments as the process moves forward, including the Planning Board, the Department of Public Works, the Fire Department and the Police Department.

Terry added that when the land originally was purchased by the town, a variety of funding sources were used. This led to the land “being divvied up in different ways,” including for use by the School Department, Parks & Rec, the DPW and open space. Around 2014, more of the land was designated for Parks & Rec use.

“The area where the parking lot is isn’t necessarily accounted for us to do that,” Terry said. It would be “shorter money” at this point to provide an unpaved parking area until the demand for the new field’s use can be assessed. It also would be expensive to add grass, fencing and irrigation where the parking lot is now.

During the meeting, the Brassards said they were supportive of the cricket field, but they want access to it to be safe.

Resident and youth cricket advocate Karthick Balasubramanian stressed that cricket players need a place to play in Hopkinton. There are several Hopkinton residents playing in “national-level tournaments” who would like to practice here so they can obtain professional status. He also requested to have a cricket pitch dedicated to youth cricket.

Guelfi noted that he has received a lot of feedback over the past few months desiring a space for youth cricket because previous conversations were dominated by adult enthusiasts. Players would like one day a week to play and one to practice.

“We understand the demand,” he said. “And it’s only going to go up.”

“Our philosophy is that the priority should be for people from the town of Hopkinton who want to play cricket,” added Terry, “whether they are 7 years old or 70 years old.” The Little League program manages the use of the fields, and Terry said that it is entrusted “to make it fair for everyone.”

Commissioner Amy O’Donnell asked about the timing of the lumber company’s truck traffic. While it varies, the concern of the Brassards was that while the business closes at 5 p.m. on weekdays, the trucks sometimes don’t return until 7 p.m. after making deliveries, which would be during game times. The number of trucks varies because customers such as loggers and landscaping companies also visit the property, but sometimes there can be up to 50 trucks.

O’Donnell added that currently the only access to the business is on Fruit Street past the soccer field. The Brassards proposed creating an access road.

While board members thought this could potentially be a good situation, an access road request could not go before Town Meeting for another year or two, Guelfi explained. He did not want the project to be held up because the demand is so pressing for cricket.

“These concerns are really valid,” said commissioner Laura Hanson. “All of these concerns will be fleshed out as we get further in the process.”

Getting an idea of the traffic on that road would help to better determine the design, she added.

Terry said it was an important discussion, but more thought would have to be given about the access road. There also are “a bunch of moving parts here,” because the design and funding are not finalized.

Guelfi said that in two weeks, Gale Associates will have a conceptual plan ready regarding the parking lot. It will be presented at Town Meeting.

Pickleball court proposal goes before Planning Board

Guelfi said that he and project engineer and designer Andrew Leonard went before the Planning Board on Monday to introduce the proposed pickleball/tennis courts for 17 Pratt Way, off Fruit Street.

“They’re enthused about it,” he said, noting that Planning Board members will be conducting a site walk on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

A peer review needs to be conducted for the drainage system, and the CPC approved the funding for it. Guelfi said he was hopeful for a conditional approval based on the peer review.

Misc.: Skate park update provided

Guelfi said that the skate park has been taken over by the town’s Engineering Department because “it has become more of an engineering and construction project.” A concern was raised about the ability to move construction equipment around because of Little League games, so construction should be in August when the season is over. …

Guelfi said that Kowloon will be providing a food truck for the Boston Marathon, which is taking place on April 17. The staging equipment will be taking up the Town Common, so it will be located on the street, where he said it will generate foot traffic. “Carnival food” such as hot dogs and snacks will be provided by another vendor. T-shirts, memorabilia and cowbells will be sold that day as well. …

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 6, at 5:30 p.m.

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