Quincy may seek new vote on track at Faxon Field
QUINCY - City officials say they are likely to ask the School Committee to vote again on the fate of the Faxon Field track, after a judge ruled last week that the committee has jurisdiction over the property.
The court ruling brings construction of the track to a halt yet again in what has become an arduous debate over where to put the athletic facility.
The track was initially destined for the renovated Veterans Memorial Stadium, until officials discovered that the designated space would not accommodate a 400-meter track. Previous mayor William Phelan decided to move the track to Pageant Field, but neighbors and others objected, and shortly after Mayor Thomas Koch took office in 2007, the new mayor suggested Faxon Field as the site for the $1 million track.
But after years of debate over the facility, and numerous appeals and court motions, neighbors have halted that plan as well.
Although city officials approved the $1 million bond for Faxon Field in a vote in June, the court decision last week favored a 2008 decision by the School Committee against putting the track in Faxon Field. To put the track there, the city must seek the committee’s permission to use the property.
That’s not something a number of committee members, as well as Faxon Field neighbors, are likely to agree to.
“I think at this point the city has had every option they could to sit down and try to figure something out,’’ said Chris Chetwynd, the neighbor who spearheaded the appeal process. “We’ve done everything we could do to this the right way, and they’ve ignored [us].’’
City officials have 10 days to appeal the ruling, issued on Sept. 8. But it’s not a route the mayor wants to go, said City Solicitor Jim Timmins.
The School Committee “should at least consider the plans,’’ Timmins said. “And that’s what we would have them do.’’
According to Timmins, the plans are still viable for Faxon, despite concerns about traffic and potential flooding.
“This is all stuff we’re addressing,’’ he said. The fixes are “a part of the project.’’
Officials said included in the track plans is a drain that will carry the water from the track to Coddington Street. Additionally, officials want to increase the capacity of a pipe under Southern Artery with the capital improvement plan.
No matter what the solution, Timmins said, there is no chance Koch would allow the track to go back to Pageant Field.
Yet, according to Anne Mahoney, School Committee vice chairwoman and a mayoral candidate, there is little chance that those who initially voted “no’’ on Faxon Field would change their minds and bring the vote back for discussion.
Without a hydraulic study, which the city is reluctant to do, and without a traffic study, which officials don’t feel is necessary, people aren’t going to take the city’s word that possible mitigations would fix existing concerns, Mahoney said.
The neighbors “don’t believe the city is going to do the right thing,’’ she said.
Timmins maintained that there are two sides to every story, and that there will be a resolution. City officials will probably try to bring the matter up for discussion at an upcoming School Committee meeting.
“We want to build a track,’’ Timmins said. “But not continue the bickering that I thought was behind us.’’
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at email@example.com.