SOMERVILLE – With limited space and thousands of active residents, the City of Somerville is reviewing recommendations made by the Recreational Fields Task Force for new policies and best practices for field permitting, use, and maintenance. Moving forward, the City will also create an Action Plan that outlines future steps to be taken to manage field usage.
To immediately begin addressing issues of field overuse, the Task Force recommended developing transparent field scheduling policies, establishing a preventive maintenance plan to prevent larger field issues, and supplying recommendations for restroom and lighting access at all fields.
“I want to thank the task force members for their diligence and the recommendations they have made,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We will continue to review these recommendations to see how we can be even more efficient and transparent in the way we manage our valuable open spaces.”
The Task Force, established by Mayor Curtatone last spring, looked at ways to minimize overuse on Somerville’s fields, while also meeting the expanding recreation needs of the City’s residents. Task Force members reviewed an assessment of the City’s recreation fields by Gale Engineers and Planners to inform their recommendations.
Eleven of Somerville’s 18 fields exceed the recommended 250 annual uses for a well-maintained natural turf field, according to the Gale report, based on field usage by sport for each field and on industry standards and guidelines. Somerville averages 433 uses a year for each natural turf field—an unsustainable amount of use regardless of maintenance and upkeep of each field. Fields included in the assessment include those owned by the City, the State Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Tufts University.
“Chairing this Commission was an honor. The many hours invested by all have resulted in an extremely well thought out recommendation to Mayor Curtatone, and the Commission looks forward to continued discussion as the Action Plan is enacted,” said Alderman at Large Mary Jo Rossetti.
Members of the task force also reviewed the Gale report and outlined their preference for the sequence of repairs and options presented in the report. The task force’s top priority was expanding field options in the City with the renovation of state-controlled Draw 7 Park with artificial turf, lighting, restroom access, and a children’s play area. To complete longer-term field renovations without putting additional stress on other City facilities, the task force seconded the Gale report recommendation of partnering with other local agencies to use field space.
“We want to make sure Somerville remains a great place to play for years to come,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We need to use the same data and transparency we use to manage other City operations to manage our fields.”