LETTER: Watertown Resident Opposes Victory Field Project

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To: Town Council, Board of Health, Town Manager, Tree Warden, Planning Board and Citizens and Neighbors:

I have been reviewing the so-called “Phase II” plan for turning Victory Field into a giant industrial “athletic complex.” They include digging up the lush green lawn currently at the center of the track, replacing it with toxic artificial turf, expanding the track area, renovating the tennis courts, adding a street hockey/ice hockey section and generally WRECKING Victory Field for some person’s vision of a giant pay-to-play sports complex that will be used by very few people from Watertown. I’m quite certain that most of the families and seniors who find it pleasant now will no longer feel that way when it’s just a glorified parking lot.

{Editor’s Note: The Recreation Department will have two meetings on the proposed Victory Field Phase II project – on Sept. 11 and Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Watertown Free Public Library. See more here.}

The disturbing information in industry literature on artificial turf indicates it can heat up in summer to almost 160 degrees, requiring it to be cooled multiple times a day with large amounts of water. That is insane – what a waste of that precious resource!! It also needs to be cleaned with special cleaners, registered as “pesticides,” to kill bacteria and prevent transmission of MRSA type infections to players who scrape themselves on the surface. So much for integrated pest management! The literature on artificial turf also notes that the turf should not be used by children under 7. It is clear that the turf breaks down over time and needs to be replaced every 7-10 years. This is not a family friendly “park.”

The “Phase II” plan also calls for more pavement in the areas outside the track for parking, a hockey rink, giant fences, more lights, etc. Further, to help “pay” for it, the town would market the facilities to outside groups which, after all, has been so “successful” with the renovated football field.


Who comes up with this stuff?

This is a disgusting betrayal of the citizens of this neighborhood and of all of Watertown. The idea of turning one of the last little bits of green open space in this town into a giant sports complex for a few local kids that want to play sports and a bunch of outsiders, versus the current use by families with small children, seniors and others who enjoy the track as it is, is an insult to all of us who live here. You can say the track will still be open to the public, but who will want to walk on it when the center is just a big hot pavement and there are games going on constantly? I certainly won’t want to use it. I might as well walk on Orchard St. Or the Arsenal Mall parking lot.

The plan notes that it will increase parking, yes – for outsiders using the facilities. How will the ice hockey rentals in winter affect the people who already have to park in the Victory Field parking lot for almost six months of the year because of “snow parking”?

The Phase II plan talks about a street hockey in summer, and ice hockey in winter. “Great.” Even more yelling, whistles, crowds, traffic, emissions and noise. Have you ever been in this area on a weekday?

It’s a lawn mower chorus from dawn to dusk with lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers… give me a break. Add the new plane routes that go right over my house, trash trucks starting at 6:30 AM banging the giant toters, street work and some jerk who loves to race his motorcycle up and down Orchard Street constantly and it’s already irritating, loud and stressful in this area. At night, there are kids hanging around in Victory Field, banging on metal, yelling and lighting firecrackers sometimes as late as 2 AM. Saturday and Sunday mornings, whistles and yelling for football and other games starts by 8 A.M. ENOUGH!!! It is almost NEVER quiet in this area. We don’t need more cars, more yelling, more whistles, street hockey, blaring horns telling skaters to get off the ice for the Zamboni, balls bouncing on fake turf, etc. NO!!

The plan talks about more lighting – oh boy – they are supposed to go out by 10 PM now – but I’ve been awake at 1 and 2 in the morning and sometimes they are still on, blazing into my window on Lovell Road all night long. Pretty soon you won’t even be able to see the moon around here, never mind the stars. The first time I heard about this plan, it indicated that all the trees around Victory Field would be cut down. Based on the latest “plans” it seems they may not be, but I can’t imagine how healthy they will be if they’re surrounded by hot pavement in summer and watered with hot, contaminated water from cooling the toxic “turf.” The fact that the cleaners used on the turf have to be registered as “pesticides” means that any pollinators or insect eating birds in the area are going to be further injured or killed. This complex is just another assault on our already increasingly damaged environment.

And this brings me to what is most offensive about this plan. For six years, I was chair of the Watertown Environment and Energy Efficiency Committee, and our group worked hard to turn Watertown into a “green community,” for which we received some nice grants and got solar panels for the high school, the police station and the DPW. Now, I’m chair of Friends of Bees, and we were reassured that Watertown does plant for pollinators (which are in a lot of trouble now) and uses minimal pesticides and herbicides as part of integrated pest management. Adding a giant HEAT ISLAND to my neighborhood in the middle of town is NOT ENERGY EFFICIENT. And ripping up healthy grass and clover to pave and poison the earth so someone can kick a ball around for a few hours here and there is a sickening betrayal of all the town’s supposed environmental values. Phase II is totally inappropriate for this area, and for Watertown. Since I’ve also heard there may be a new high school built in a different area down the road, Phase II is also ill-timed. If or when the new high school is built, perhaps then new right-sized athletic facilities should be considered, but not in this area. Fancy fields don’t make better athletes, practice does.

My uncle, James Luck, in your “Watertown Sports Hall of Fame,” won the Olympic Bronze for track in 1964 even though he was sick with mononucleosis – and back then the track was just dirt. He doesn’t want the new facilities being planned either. Today, as a senior citizen, he still comes to walk the track several times a week with his wife, always commenting on how nice the grass is.

You all really need take a step back and re-think what is happening in Watertown. The giant apartments on Pleasant Street are right up to the sidewalk, adding to the traffic gridlock in the Square and blocking the views of the river. Most mornings now, the 71 bus already packed by the third stop out from the square. You are well on the way to turning Watertown into Somerville West, without the quirky charm of that oddball city. There are a lot of things that the majority of taxpayers in this city need and would rather have than another paved “park.” Whoever came up with this plan to spend our money, and who is already spending it given that these plans are being drafted, is doing the majority of us a disservice.



Thank you for taking the time to read my comments,

Lisa Alexander

(Send your letter to the editor to WatertownMaNews@gmail.com)

6 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown Resident Opposes Victory Field Project

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Thanks for expressing this widely held point of view, Lisa. Maybe this time the town will listen??

  2. I love Phase I
    I support phase II.
    I believe your statement the plans “do a majority of us a disservice” is simply incorrect. If anything, it is a majority who will benefit.
    Keep up the good work Pete et al.

  3. We have quite enough plastic turf for Watertown…the inside of the track is not only an athletic field but also a toddler field, family picnic area, kite flying, general community living center surrounded by homes/families. This is a community park which use to host the High school football and field hockey team(and now more inclusive of the other sports which is good as they can certainly share), not an athletic sport center. Let us all keep in mind the fact that we already have 160,000 sqft of artificial turf already present, locked and managed. This is not one but 1.5+ fields of artificial turf.

  4. Well said, Lisa. I agree with all of your points. Let’s hope the town council listens.

    Many of us will not benefit from Phase 2. Not everyone plays school sports.

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