The Committee looking at the Renovation of the track and courts area of Victory Field heard from a variety of residents and users of the facility and came up with a plan they hope balances the needs of the school sports programs, people who use the area recreationally and neighbors.
After more than a year and a dozen meetings, the Ad Hoc Committee on Victory Field Phase 2 presented a list of more than 50 recommendations.
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Town Council President Mark Sideris commended the members of the committee for recommendations they came up with.
“I applaud all of them for listening to the community and coming up with a plan that in my opinion is a very good report,” Sideris said.
The committee members included Town Councilors, neighbors of the field, Youth Sports, and representatives from the Town and the Watertown Public Schools.
Town Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli, who chaired the committee, said the plan tried to balance the needs of sometimes opposing groups. He noted that Watertown does not have the luxury of having a separate main athletic facility and park area in that area of town.
“Our objective was to develop recommendations to improve the facility to meet the needs of school athletics and youth sports, that will provide an improved experience for casual park users, and will lessen the negative impacts on the neighborhood,” Piccirilli said, reading from the final report. “While there were many who thought these three objectives were mutually exclusive, the Ad Hoc Committee challenged ourselves to think differently, obtain extensive input from the public, and consider the full range of options available to make a transformative change for our town and our neighborhood.”
Town Councilor Caroline Bays thanked Piccirilli for making sure people felt heard during the meetings. Bays attended most of the meetings and said she thought the discussions helped not only with planning for Victory Field, but also with discussions of how to improve other parks and fields around town.
Councilor Lisa Feltner said the one concern she has with the report is that there is no plan for creating or preserving shade. Some items were discussed, such as putting up an umbrella or preserving trees, but those did not make it into the final plan.
The report discussed how the committee approached the recommendations
“The resulting recommendation is a fine balance between the desire of athletic teams to have Victory Field be a state-of-the-art facility and the general public’s desire to enjoy Victory Field as open parkland,” Piccirilli said. “Because we are constrained by history and geography, we don’t have the luxury of building single-use facilities, and so Victory Field must serve double duty.”
The recommendations covers a several areas:
- track and field facilities
- playing field inside the track
- parking area and driveway
- tennis and basketball courts
- stormwater, perimeter walls and fences, and
- other fixtures, equipment, landscaping and amenities
Piccirilli said the toughest decisions were those over lighting, netting and storage, because the committee had to balance the needs of an athletic facility with the desire to maintain a feeling of an open green space.
“The Phase 2 process has been slow, it has been messy, and it has been contentious; but it has also been democratic, transparent, and open to all for input,” Piccirilli said, reading from the report. “We are extremely proud of the teamwork and the tremendous effort this Committee has put into the task, and hope that the Town Council appreciates the importance of how all the elements fit together to satisfy all the stakeholders.”
See the Ad Hoc Committee on Victory Field Phase 2 report by clicking here.