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Should Bertram Field Become a City Park With Artificial Turf? [POLL]

School Committee votes to 'consider' transferring field to Parks Department to help win up to $600,000 to pay for $1 million artificial turf field.

The School Committee voted four to two Monday night to "consider" transferring ownership of to the city of Salem to help win a state grant of up to $600,000 toward building an artificial turf field.

The city has until the end of this month to apply to the state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations program for a grant for the field. One condition of that grant, Mayor Kimberley Driscoll told the committee members, is that the city own the field, not the school district.

Artificial turf fields have become very popular with cities and towns that have over-used natural turf fields. The demand for fields is growing from schools, youth and adult sport leagues, the committee was told.

The mayor estimated that the cost of an artificial turf field would be about $1 million.

Driscoll, urging the committee to approve the non-binding vote, said the city had won other grants from the state PARC program. Those grants helped and will help fund improvements to , she said.

The mayor said the state has funded a long list of artificial turf fields, including one in Beverly and Gloucester. She doubted if there was any other way for Salem to get a much-needed artificial turf field.

She said the school committee will have months to consider actually transferring the field to the city's recreation department. But "to get our foot in the door" for the grant, she said the school committee would have to vote that it would be willing to consider the transfer of ownership.

Vice Chairman Jim Fleming strongly opposed even voting to consider the transfer of ownership without a lot more information. Saying he would love to have an artifical turf field at Bertram, Fleming said the committee would be "stepping off a cliff" in voting for the mayor's proposal. 

"That is not the way to conduct business," Fleming said.

Member Dr. Janet Crane agreed that the committee does not have enough information to vote on the issue. She and Fleming opposed the measure.

Driscoll apologized for not giving the committee more time, but said the opportunity only came to the city during the last week.

The committee was in agreement that the school playing fields are in bad shape.

Member Nate Bryant also noted that the schools and the recreation department have a good relationship on other facilities. "I don't see that going sour," he said.

All members of the committee seemed to be in favor of requiring that Bertram give priority to school teams.

The issue of transferring ownership would also have to be considered by the City Council.

Open the Gates

The committee also voted for a new policy to open its athletic facilities, including Bertram Field, to the public. Some facilities are locked, although committee member Deborah Amaral said Bertram is well used, thanks to a large hole in the fence.

The mayor noted that there was some irony in considering a new policy to encourage more use of the field, after the committee had been discussing how Bertram Field and track are in such poor shape.

The committee will now consider new rules governing the use of the school facilities.  

john June 21, 2012 at 02:22 AM
By the way, how much would we have to pay to use Bertram field? We all know not all city parks are free as they should be so I figure probably $50 bucks for a sticker with no place to park during school hours.Stop blowing money and waisting time on stupid ideas.
Mike June 21, 2012 at 02:34 AM
You mean the emperors new cloths? What makes you believe that Beverly or any other small community wasn't lobbied hard to switch by the manufacturer ? A million dollars plus a contract for possible upkeep an replacement in 5-10 year in inflated dollars, seems like plenty of incentive for a scam against the City.
Patricia Rutkowski June 21, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Eight years ago I was heavily involved in Salem Pop Warner and whenever we went to an opposing field that had artificial turf our children were injured more. I'm not sure if things have changed in the past 8 years when the fields were first done, but there was a game in Chelsea surrounding area that we had four ambulances take children off the field. Parents would cringe when we had to play on turf. I would check into that before I do anything with the field. Less bounce for the children when they hit the turf as opposed to the actual grass with dirt. The children mean more than saving money or getting more play of the field. ALSO,,WHY is there a huge hole in the fence as posted previously?? I know that years ago Bertram Field was always the FIRST field requested for SPW and we had restricted usage if there were a mere drizzle because OUR field was so well taken care of. EVERYONE wanted to play at Bertram, so why is it such a mess now?? What changed? Thanks!!
windpower June 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM
"Aggressively failing" .Another we have to do it NOW moment from city hall .
hank jemery July 28, 2012 at 04:58 AM
In Boston all city parks have turf and I seen a park on Ceylon st get redone. And walking on it was like a little sping board its a no brainer todays sports tech engineering definitely. A good idea ............and it would be ni e for the teams of salem to have a nice updated. Playing field and bring spirit back to Salem.look at down town all nicely Done up.new court house.downtown side of bridge st redone but something nice for the Salem teams its a price tag sad.

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