The driveway at Victory Field will be transformed into an area where pedestrians, bicycles and cars will intermingle.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Victory Field Phase 2 voted to make changes to the area between the two parking areas at Victory Field to make a shared use area. The area will be raised and the surface will be something different from asphalt, likely some sort of brick or paver.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second time the committee had discussed the possibility of creating a shared space at Victory Field (read about the last meeting here). The group asked for some possible designs for the shared area and on Tuesday Designer Glenn Howard of CDM Smith presented some mock-ups for how the shared area might look with new surface, plantings and other features.
The portion of the driveway that goes between the track and the football bleachers is quite narrow, and adding a sidewalk would just make it tougher for vehicles to pass each other, Howard said. He noted that the area is already treated like a walkway by users of Victory Field.
“When we were there measuring to see what we could do (in the shared space) a group of 10 people walked down the middle of the driveway,” Howard said. “They couldn’t use the sidewalk, it would not be wide enough. That is how kids come down there – in groups.”
There was some concern that there could be a safety issue with cars driving in area where pedestrians are milling around. A few people said that driver act differently in a shared space, including resident Mark Kraczkiewicz.
“I’ve driven through these areas in Europe and when you enter in a car you are looking all around,” Kraczkiewicz said. “You really slow down, almost crawling.”
What the surface will be made of has not been decided. Howard said if possible he would like to see brick paver used to give the surface a different feel and to give it the look of a walking area.
Town Councilor Tony Palomba, a Victory Field Committee member, wanted to know if the bricks could be porous pavers, which allow rain to trickle through into the ground instead of going into storm drains and eventually into the Charles River. Town Engineer Matt Shuman said porous pavers can clog with silt and sand, and require cleaning and maintenance. Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon added that the town does not have a vacuuming machine that would clean the pavers. Referring to a discussion earlier in the meeting Palomba asked if the committee is making recommendations without worrying about the of costs (which would be analyzed later by the full Town Council) why not recommend using porous pavers.
The committee also said they want to make upgrades to the entrance to Victory Field off Orchard Street. Committee member and field abutter Elodia Thomas said she envisioned a sign over the top of the entrance and perhaps moving the World War I era cannon to the entrance to give them more visibility.
“I want people to realize they are entering a special place,” Thomas said.
Thomas also suggested having a plaque about the history of the cannon and about Victory Field, which was dedicated to those who served and fought in World War I. Resident Russ Arico liked the idea of a plaque for the cannon.
“I agree there should be a plaque explaining their significance,” Arico said. “Freedom is not free. A lot of people lost lives, limbs and other things to defend our freedom.”
Recreation Director Peter Centola said he does not want to see the cannon moved again, because it was just placed next to the field 6 years ago. He said he would support removing the fence around them so people can see them more clearly.
The committee agreed that the entrance on Orchard should be improved, along with cleaning and upgrading the back entrance on Marion Road. They also agreed they would like to see the utility poles on the site removed and have the wires put underground.
The committee also discussed what to do with the fences between Victory Field and neighboring homes. There are two main sections, a chainlink fence behind the tennis courts and homes on Marion Road and a retaining wall with a chainlink fence along the homes to the east of the field, mostly on Katherine Road.
The last time the fence around the tennis and basketball ball courts war replaced it left a gap between the fence and the back fences of residents. Neighbors complain of bushes and even trees growing up between the two fences in the debris that has built up over the years. Thomas said behind her house a pile of construction debris was left after the project and it is pushing over her back fence.
The committee discussed a few options, including building a chainlink fence and having neighbors attach their back fences to the poles of the chainlink fence. Recreation Director suggested having a sound barrier wall similar to what is seen along highways between the courts and the homes. Howard said the fence should be at least 12 feet high to prevent balls from going over.
Residents at the meeting said they didn’t want a soundproof wall behind their houses, because they wanted to be able to see over their back fence.
The committee agreed to have a chainlink fence in a footing that ran along the property line. Residents could then put up their own fencing nearby, and could leave a gap of few inches at the bottom so that leaves and debris could be removed.
The current fence along the east side of the field, and a small portion of Marion Road after the courts end, has a chainlink fence. For most of the length the fence comes out of the top of the retaining wall. The wall is falling apart, in part because of the fences coming out of the top.
The committee agreed to fix or replace the retaining wall and remove the fence from the top. A new a six-foot high chainlink fence just inside the field property will be put up.
The decision for what to do with a small part of the fence, between the tot lot and a nearby home, was left until the next meeting. They may put up a chainlink fence or a soundproof wall, said Councilor and Victory Field Committee Chairman Vincent Piccirilli. The decision will be left up to the resident’s preference, he said.
The next Victory Field Committee meeting will be held on Oct. 3 in the Lower Hearing Room inside Town Hall.