The Recreation Department has a wide range of upgrades and a few additions planned for the track and court areas of Victory Field.
Plans include replacing the track, installing artificial turf inside the track, and improving the tennis and adding a multi-purpose court where basketball and street hockey can be played, said Recreation Director Peter Centola.
The project is in the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, and has a budget of $2.5 million. The money would be borrowed by the town through bonds, Centola said.
The Victory Field complex, which also includes the field where artificial turf was recently installed, serves not only as main recreation area for the town, it also serves as the home to many Watertown High School athletics teams and is used for physical education classes, Centola said.
“It has always been the number one recreation facility in town,” said Tom Sullivan, the former Recreation Director who preceded Centola.
The project has drawn some opposition, particularly from neighbors of the field (click here to read more). People will have a chance to discuss the plans at two upcoming meetings about the project, on Sept. 11 and Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Watertown Savings Bank Room at the Watertown Free Public Library.
The track was identified as needing replacement in 2006. It was installed in 1991. Along with being used by the high school track teams, it is also a popular place for residents to run and walk.
A rubber-topped area will be installed inside the track at one end of the field for events such as shot put, discus and high jump. Two more lanes will be added on the straight away closest to the tennis courts for the sprint events.
Centola said a second turf field would be a useful addition.
“A turf field minimizes maintenance and increases uses,” Centola said, who added that geese do not sit on and foul up the turf.
Turf fields can be used in early spring or even late winter if the weather is warm enough because of improved drainage. Injuries have been a concern for some with artificial turf, but Centola said he has not heard of any injuries caused by the artificial grass since Victory Field opened in November 2011.
The new field will have a new addition – lights. With the lighting, the fields can be used by WHS sports teams when the sun goes down. That becomes key when the days get shorter in the fall, Centola said.
The light poles will have two sets of lights – ones at the top to light up the field, and another set halfway down the pole to illuminate the track. The modern light system will have a better timing system, Centola said, which can be controlled by phone or computer.
Around the track, a set of fitness stations will be installed. The stations will be paid for through the PEP grant received by by the school district.
The tot lot near Orchard Street will be resurfaced, too, Centola said.
Another new addition will be a parking area with a turn around area.
“If you have ever tried to park (at Victory Field) and there are no spaces, you have to back out,” Centola said.
The parking area will have spaces for buses and parking spots will be all on hard surfaces. Some parking right now is on dirt.
To make room for the new parking area, the tennis courts and basketball courts will be moved down into a grassy area on the east side of the complex. The trees in that spot will be replanted.
A plaza with tables and chairs will be installed near the parking area, too. Centola said the area would be similar to the one built near the football/baseball field. There will be no grills at Victory Field, as seen at places like Arsenal Park. Centola said once a year grills are brought in by the organizers of the Relay for Life, as they have in the past.