The fence around the Victory Field tennis courts sits less than 100 feet from the back window of the home of Elodia Thomas and Bruce Coltin. The couple worries that proposed changes to the track area of the athletic complex will mean they will have to endure more light, noise and other annoyances in their home.
In April, Thomas learned that the Recreation Department plans to renovate the track and courts at Victory Field. The plan calls for replacing the track and installing an artificial turf field and adding lights around the track. The courts would be redone, and a street hockey rink that can be frozen in the winter has also been proposed.
In addition, nearly 30 more parking spaces and a barbecue area has been proposed, Thomas said.
Thomas and other residents of Marion Road, Katherine Road and Orchard Street – which sit next to or across the street from the complex, have begun to organize to make sure their voice is heard during the planning for the Victory Field renovations.
“We were stunned by all the parking,” Thomas said. “We knew we bought a house next to a field, but no one expected a parking lot outside of their bedroom windows.”
Thomas said she thinks there is enough parking if people use the Department of Public Works Yard, just the other side of the football field.
“We want better signs directing people to the DPW – ones with big arrows,” Thomas said.
The renovated football/baseball field already gets a lot of use, and is frequently rented by out-of-town groups. Thomas and Coltin fear the track will also be used at all hours, and not left as a place for kids to play and hang out.
“(The track) serves the purpose of a town square – people with kids at the tot lot and people walking around the track,” Coltin said. “They want to turn it into an athletic facility for people in leagues. It undermines the feel of the park.”
Thomas also worries about the addition of large light poles around the track. Light from the basketball courts already illuminates her living room in the evening – mostly from indirect light. Also, she does not want the smoke from the barbecues coming into her backyard.
There are improvements that neighbors would like to see, such as real toilet facilities to replace the port-o-potties now available to users of the track and courts. Also, some shady places for people to sit, and more signage and enforcement of the park hours – which are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are no signs on the basketball courts, and Thomas said she sometimes has to call police to break up late night games.
Some of the other improvements would be better at some of Watertown’s other parks.
“They could go to Arsenal Park, where there are no abutters,” Coltin said. Filippello Park could also be a good spot, he said.
The Recreation Department will hold two meetings to discuss plans for Victory Field – one on Thursday, Sept. 11 and the second on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. and will be in the Watertown Savings Bank Room at the Watertown Free Public Library.