Storage for the track area of Watertown’s Victory Field will be provided in a small storage building behind the football bleachers and on the track in a movable shed that will protect the pads for pole vault.
In one of the final meetings of the Victory Field Phase 2 Committee, held Nov. 21, the group recommendations group decided on storage options and to reorient the field.
When the track is renovated and a new surface is installed, one end of the field will have a “D” made up of rubberized surface similar to the track surface. Originally, the D was going to be on the east side of the field – the far side from the football field. Last week, the Committee decided to flip the field so the D would be on the side closest to the football field.
This decision impacts the planned storage for the track team. Currently, the Watertown High School track team puts its equipment into an old steel shipping container that sits between the track and the tennis courts. All agreed that the shipping container must go. At earlier meetings, the Victory Field Committee discussed erecting a small storage building at the end of the end of the track near the fence that separates the facility from the houses to the east end of the field.
There was space on that side, but when the D moved to the other side there is less open space to put a storage building because the driveway runs near that end of the track. The storage should be near the D because that is where some of the bigger equipment, including the high jump pads, will be used.
Members of the committee discussed putting the storage behind the football bleachers, or even underneath them. Designer Glenn Howard of CDM Smith said he is not sure if putting them under the stands would be possible, but he could look into it.
If the storage was there, the track team would have to move items like hurdles and high jump pads across the driveway each time they have practice or a meet. WHS is also adding pole vault, which has its own set of pads that are even bigger than the high jump pads.
Nick Cordeiro, a WHS student on the track team, said it would be quite a chore to move the pads on a daily basis.
“It is unfeasible to move the pole vault and high jump pads (every day),” Cordeiro said. “It is basically impossible. We need to have a cover (for the pads).”
A pad made our of a cloth material can be purchased for the pads, but because Victory Field is open to the public, some worried about people jumping onto the pads or even climbing on top and jumping off. There was also some concern about the pads being vandalized.
Recreation Director Peter Centola, who is on the Victory Field Committee, suggested one or more metal storage sheds that could be rolled over the pads to protect them. With two sheds Centola said he does not think a separate storage building would be needed.
Committee member and field abutter Elodia Thomas met with a representative from a company that makes the sheds along with WHS track coach Tom Wittenhagen. Thomas said was told the sheds could be used during the season, but would not be an option for year-round storage, especially during the winter months. Wittenhagen said he found a manufacturer that makes ones that are “all-weather.”
The shed would have to be slightly larger than the pole vault pads, which would make the shed about 24 feet x 24 feet and 4 feet tall, Wittenhagen said. When the pads need to be used the shed would be rolled over to one side of the D.
Some residents at the meeting said they don’t want to have a shed on the track throughout the year.
“We talk so much about preserving the park feel of Victory Field,” said resident Steve Kennedy, who added he would rather have a storage building next to the football stands.
The committee briefly discussed having two movable sheds on the track, but moved on to looking at having either just a storage building near the football bleachers or the storage building plus the movable shed. In that scenario the high jump pads would need to be moved each day.
The committee voted 6-2 for the storage building plus the movable shed, with Thomas and Centola voting against.
Victory Field Committee Chairman and Town Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said the group would have to confirm some things before going ahead with the plan, such as whether the movable shed could be left out all year.
“We are making a lot of assumptions with those. We have some information, but maybe we need to dig into this further,” Piccirilli said. “If there is not permanent, all-weather storage available we will have to revisit (the movable sheds).”
The Victory Field Committee will have at least one more meeting where the group will finalize all the group’s recommendations before sending them to the Town Council for consideration.