The subject of Concord’s sports fields is back on the table this month as the school board begins the process of creating a community advisory committee or public hearing to gather community input. on existing facilities and the possibility of building an artificial turf pitch.
“Perhaps it is time to review our facilities and determine if they are ready for upgrades?” Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said Tuesday. “Things only last for a while. We want to be able to watch the facilities at Memorial Field, and I know they use an area for field hockey that I’m not sure is conducive to play.”
At Monday night’s board meeting, members discussed the idea of creating a Sports Fields and Facilities Advisory Committee, made up of members representing parents, coaches, students, government municipal and school district.
Board members said the committee would need clearly established objectives to be effective, and they wondered if organizing an advisory committee would have more or less impact than simply holding a meeting. a public hearing.
“I don’t think it’s a choice,” board member Jonathan Weinberg said. “I think we can have a hearing on this, while forming a committee with intent.”
There are other bigger questions about how the city and school district share the use of sports facilities and which institution should pay for construction and maintenance. School board members said these issues will need to be addressed through negotiations that are beyond the scope of any advisory committee.
“I think there needs to be serious negotiations,” Murphy told council members at the meeting. “Will it be difficult? It absolutely will, because of the traditions and the long history you have. But I think you have to start somewhere. And I think there are a lot of people who expect you to do that.
Athletes, parents and coaches at Concord have expressed worry in recent years with conditions at city-owned Memorial Field, where a heavy rainstorm can create pools of standing water, and waterlogged grass can be torn by cleats in minutes. Concord High games often had to be postponed or moved due to poor conditions at Memorial Field.
The city has a plan on the table to build an artificial turf pitch at Terrill Park in the next phase of improvements, although funding remains a struggle. Artificial fields typically cost upwards of $1 million and Concord’s could cost more as the city plans to forgo the classic crumb rubber infill in favor of a more natural material, due to the proximity of the field. with the Merrimack River.
Concord school officials say an artificial turf pitch could be incorporated into the design of a new college depending on cost and location, but no final decision has been made.
Artificial turf fields have been constructed in other communities across the state, including Bedford, Nashua, Manchester, Hollis-Brookline and Laconia. Bow’s proposal to build a turf field was voted against at the town hall earlier this year.
Board members have referred the issue of the Sports Fields Committee to their Capital Committee, which will review the matter and recommend a course of action.