The area of Moxley Field which now has two tennis courts and a basketball court will be renovated, and one of the tennis courts will be replaced by a multi-sport rink.
On March 16, the City Council approved the project, which had been in the queue for capital projects since Fiscal Year 2016, said City Manager George Proakis. The $1.38 million project includes the demolition and removal of the current courts, and the creation of the new courts and the rink.
The grassy area of Moxley Field will be the temporary home of Watertown High School while the new building is constructed. City Council President Mark Sideris said the court renovations and new rink are scheduled to be completed by the fall, so that the high school can use the facilities.
Some councilors asked why one of the tennis courts was removed in favor of the rink.
“The primary reason we stayed with the multi-purpose rink, as opposed to keeping the tennis court, was simply because several sports could be played there,” said Assistant City Manager Steve Magoon. “It can be used for futsal, it can be used for street hockey, it can be used for box lacrosse — a variety of sports and a variety of activities, as opposed to tennis courts that are limited to tennis and pickleball, in some cases.”
When the project last came before the Council, the issue was raised about noise from the multi-sport court, particularly pucks and balls hitting against the boards. Councilor Lisa Feltner said she still has those concerns and asked how noise would be mitigated. Magoon said there will be soundproofing insulation on the back side of the boards, and it will be built up near a stone wall with trees on top to try to contain the sound. The rink will be near the corner of Westminster Avenue and Bemis Street.
Lighting also concerned residents and councilors. Resident Elodia Thomas wanted to make sure the lights meet the Dark Sky lighting, which focuses lights only on the area, limits the light shining into nearby homes, and is only on when needed.
Magoon said the Council voted previously to turn off the lights at 9 p.m. Recreation Director Peter Centola said the lights will be on until then, and he does not like to turn them off if no one is using the area at, say, 8 p.m. because someone may come out before 9 to get some exercise.
Councilor Caroline Bays asked if the lights could have a button to push to turn them on if someone comes along to use them, so that the lights aren’t on the entire time.
Centola said typically communities do not have that sort of push-button lights for a project like this. He added that there are only four light poles, so that they all need to be on to light the courts and rink. At larger facilities, such as Victory Field, he said there are more poles, so areas can be isolated using only a portion of the lights.
Councilor Nicole Gardner said she prefers to have lights off when the facility is not in use, because “it saves money, is better for nature and for the neighbors.”
“We should have a sign somewhere that says welcome to Moxley,” Gardner said. “When it’s not lit because it has been empty for an hour or two, push that button.”
The project has already been bid, and the City will award the contract to Quirk Construction, which bid $1.07 million, said Proakis, who added the project will be right on budget when contingency and construction administration costs are added.
The Council unanimously supported the project.