At its meeting on Wednesday, the Parks & Recreation Commission discussed updates on the Fruit Street fields replacement project as well as a pedestrian connectivity survey and spring and summer programming.
Parks & Recreation Department Director Jay Guelfi and Commission Chair Dan Terry met with the Conservation Commission last week to discuss findings from Weston & Sampson, the town’s engineering firm. The Department of Public Works had commissioned the study due to concerns about potential PFAS exposure at the Fruit Street turf fields. After reviewing the findings, Guelfi reported that the Conservation Commission feels “comfortable with the project going forward.” Terry added that the Water Department also is confident that the project isn’t contributing to any problems, “so, we’re good to go ahead.”
This development, along with support from the Capital Improvement Committee, Appropriations Committee and the Select Board, indicates that “we’ve got our ducks in a row,” Guelfi said, “and now it’s about convincing the residents that this is the best idea, and hopefully at Town Meeting we can do that and then replace the field this summer.”
Pedestrian Connectivity Survey results reviewed
Planning Board Chair Gary Trendel presented the results of the board’s Pedestrian Connectivity Survey to members of the commission. The objectives of the survey included the following: understand the underlying preferences and needs related to non-vehicular connectivity of Hopkinton residents; provide a basis for the Hopkinton pedestrian connectivity plan; and produce data that will help prioritize sidewalk/trails investments and help build advocacy for proposed investments at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting.
The survey found that Hopkinton is a very active community with broad interest in using trails and sidewalks for a multitude of purposes. It also found that more than 85 percent of respondents believe that more trails and sidewalks would improve mental and physical health.
The Planning Board’s preliminary recommendations include the following: focus on trail loops of 2-5 miles for runners and walkers; invest in paved infrastructure that stems out from downtown and around schools; have trails of various surfaces based on location and use; identify 3-12-mile bike loops; and improve safety features on highly traveled roads.
Trendel reported that the Planning Board will share the results with additional boards and committees and plans to build a working group to prioritize focus areas. A public input session would follow in June and proposals would be developed for sidewalk, path and trail investments.
Property requests approved
The Hopkinton Farmers Market’s request to use the Town Common on Sundays between June 12 and Oct. 16 was approved. Laura Davis of the Hopkinton Farmers Market encouraged Hopkinton high school students to apply for the organization’s 2022 scholarship, which is open to students who will be pursuing a degree in agriculture, health food systems, environmental studies, civics or social justice.
The Hopkinton Garden Club also was granted use of the Town Common on May 7 for the purpose of hosting a plant sale from 9 a.m.-noon. Proceeds from the sale primarily go to the beautification of the town.
Programming updates shared
Guelfi reported that summer program registration is outpacing 2019 with several programs already at or near capacity. “It just shows you that the town is growing and people are seeing value in this stuff,” Guelfi said. He noted that track and field, tennis and science programs, in particular, have been very popular, which is “a credit to the people who run those programs.”
Guelfi and Terry also met with stakeholders in lacrosse and soccer to discuss spring turf field scheduling. “Everyone wants more time on the turf,” Terry reported, noting that recreation needs are growing along with the town. “Registrations for all these organizations have increased,” Guelfi added, “and we have the same amount of fields. … We’ve got to get creative to figure that out.”
Coordination with the schools may help alleviate some scheduling issues, Guelfi said, but over the long term, the construction of a new, multi-sport field will be necessary. “The town’s going to need it.”