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Town of Hopkinton Shares Information on Fruit Street Fields Turf Replacement Project Ahead of Annual Town Meeting

By contributor,
Town Seal

Town Manager Norman Khumalo and Hopkinton Parks & Recreation Director Jay Guelfi and Commission Chair Dan Terry would like to share with the community information on the Warrant Article relating to the Fruit Street Fields turf replacement project, which residents will vote on at Annual Town Meeting next week.

The Fruit Street turf fields were built in 2011 as part of a partnership between the Town of Hopkinton and the Hopkinton Youth Soccer Association (HYSA) to provide a playing space for the town’s expanding youth sports programs. As part of the agreement, the town provided the necessary land and HYSA financed the construction of two full-size soccer fields. The fields were also lined to accommodate lacrosse, football and field hockey.

The agreement between the town and HYSA was for a period of 10 years. It was estimated at the time of construction that the turf fields would have a useful life expectancy of 8-12 years.

In August 2021, the Parks & Recreation Department engaged Tom Irwin & Associates of Burlington to perform a diagnostic review of the fields and evaluate their safety, performance and overall condition. The review determined that the condition of the fields was rapidly declining. Though the fields meet the minimum standards for safety and performance, significant repairs are needed to extend their usefulness and to ensure they remain safe beyond the next few years, at which time the original useful expectancy period of the fields will have been reached.

As a result of the review and findings, the Parks & Recreation Department and Parks & Recreation Commission determined that replacing the surface was the best option. Gale Associates, a consulting engineering firm of Weymouth, was brought on to help manage the project.

Replacing the fields will improve safety as the current field is 11 years old, the crumb rubber infill has been depleted and there is no shock pad underneath the surface. The proposed new surface will have a shock pad underneath, which is a safety measure to help prevent head injuries and other sports-related impact injuries.

The proposed new field will be constructed with state-of-the-art, modern materials with upgraded performance technology. Fruit Street Fields hosts several regional tournaments that provide significant annual revenue, and these changes will help ensure the fields continue to be a desirable location for such events.

The proposed replacement will also use the most environmentally safe materials possible, helping the fields to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. Infill technology has improved substantially over the past 10 years, and the department plans to replace the existing crumb rubber infill with a more environmentally friendly organic infill.

“The Fruit Street Fields are an important part of our town and offer many opportunities for recreational and competitive activities,” Chair Terry said. “However, the current fields and materials are reaching the end of their useful life, impacting safety and performance. When the fields were built 11 years ago, the options around shock pads and infill were limited. There are many more modern, sustainable options available now that we plan to take advantage of that will provide a safer, better-performing surface for anyone who uses the fields. Our overall goal is for this project to help extend the life of the fields to ensure they are a safe and usable space for years to come.”

Subject to voter approval, the project will be partially paid for through $400,000 in existing Parks & Recreation funds appropriated for field repairs. The remaining costs will be funded through a debt exclusion, which is a mechanism that allows a town to raise tax revenue for a fixed period of time above what is normally permitted.

The approximately $1.27 million debt exclusion, which is Article 28 on the Town Meeting Warrant, will require a 2/3 affirmative vote from Town Meeting.

The total cost of the project, including both the debt exclusion and existing funds, is just over $1.67 million.

The Parks & Recreation Department expects to complete the design and planning phase of the project in May. Construction would take place beginning in mid-June and end in August, and use of the fields would resume in September.

Hopkinton’s 2022 Annual Town Meeting will be held on Monday, May 2 beginning at 7 p.m. at Hopkinton Middle School. Additional information and documents related to Town Meeting can be found at following link.