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Votes Scheduled For Athletic Complex, Town Charter Proposals

Two emotional issues will finally go before the voters this spring.

(Editor's note: When this article was first published, the estimated cost of the field project was misreported because of a reporting error. It has been corrected.)

Two issues that have generated emotional reactions from residents over the past several months will finally go before the voters for a final decision this spring.

the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a request by the Friends Of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex (FOTCAC) to place a $1.935 million debt exclusion on the Municipal Election Ballot on April 14. That money would be used to fund than the one presently planned for the new high school.

In addition, selectmen voted unanimously to schedule a Special Town Meeting for Tuesday, May 8. The only article on the warrant for that meeting will be the proposal to adopt the The proposed change and replacing them with a nine-member Town Council.

Brian Dick, a member of the School Committee and the FOTCAC, made the presentation before the selectmen and said the request for the debt exclusion was made so that the project could be started and dovetail with the new high school project.

"We're not stopping our fund-raising efforts. We're not stopping our quest for grants," said Dick, after the meeting. One of the grants the group has applied for is the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Grant, which could net as much as $500,000, according to Dick.

To date, the group has raised over $50,000 and last summer, it announced a corporate partnership with TD Bank, which has pledged at least $7.500 per year.

The group's proposal has called for a 1,500-seat stadium (rather than 800), with artificial turf, lights for night games and an adjacent set of tennis courts.

During his presentation to the committee, Dick said the group was flexible and willing to work with the Planning Board on any changes to the proposal that board might feel were needed. One of those changes would be to reduce the number of seats to 1,000.

"People keep thinking this is about the artificial turf, it isn't," said Dick, after the meeting. "It's more about the tennis courts and a complex that can be used by all the teams and by the community."

Now it's back, Dick said, because several donors had said they would not support the project if lights were not included.

If approved, the construction of the athletic complex would be part of Phase 2 of the high school project, targeted for completion in August, 2013.

If the debt exclusion is approved by voters in April, it would still need to be approved at the Annual Town Meeting on May 9.

Town Meeting Week promises to be very busy for Tewksbury voters. The Annual Town Meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 9.

The first day of the meeting is traditionally dedicated, almost exclusively, to the budget. The second day also includes a Special Town Meeting to deal, primarily, with housekeeping items from the current fiscal year.

The proposals put forth by the Special Act Charter Committee With that in mind, the Board of Selectmen felt is was appropriate to take the unusual step of giving the article it's own Special Town Meeting and it's own night.

Selectman Scott Wilson, chairman of the SACC, said his committee did not plan to make any additional changes to the proposal between now and the Special Town Meeting.

Selectman David Gay said he agreed with allowing voters to decide on the proposal and agreed that it should be given its own night during Town Meeting Week. However, he also took the opportunity to once again voice his opposition to the proposal and say he would vote against it.

Shirley March 08, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Okay- Why weren't they upfront with the neighbors from the beginning about the plans for this expanded athletic complex? The neighbors should write letters to the editor, the Selectmen and the School Committee about this- then maybe someone will listen. Its a shame that people have to come onto an internet "comprehensive source for news, information and the exchange of ideas" like this to get heard.
Michael Chapman March 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Brian You make a lot of good points and I truly appreciate the time & effort you put into this venture, but why was a Hockey Rink not included in the original plan? A Hockey Rink, when ran properly, is a revenue-generating facility.
Bill Gilman March 08, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thank you Shirley .... :) and feel free to send us letters to the editor ... we will run them all.
Stan March 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM
First off, typical liberal thinking "we saved $8-9 million lets find another way to piss it away." This complex is being "back doored" for fear of losing support for the original high school project. This field will never come close to getting a 10th of it paid for with user/entrance fees. We have a fire station in South Tewksbury with 60 percent of the ambulance calls coming from that end of town and we don't have the money to keep it open. Three out of the four elementry schools are falling down. My taxes just went up $1,000.00 this year. We just transfered 50 percent of the sewer debt to the tax rolls and sewer rates are still going up 8%. (Shouldn't they be going down?) True, cost of goods are going up everyday, the difference is we "need" food, water and gas. It would be nice to have this complex, but we don't "need" a complex. My vote is NO. P.S. Before people say I'm out of touch, I have a 6 and 11 year old in Tewksbury Schools.
Stan March 15, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Take some of the money you have raised and improve on the field that is already slated to be built, like adding sensors and a well.

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