Artificial turf likely for Hingham High field

While Hingham School Committee members aren’t sure whether the high school’s multipurpose field will have lights, one thing seems clear: The field should have artificial turf.

The questions of turf, lighting, traffic, and concessions have been debated since Town Meeting last October provided $275,000 to plan a new field. And although debate continues to rage on several issues, school officials have their eyes set on artificial turf.

The field, which would be used by several sports teams at Hingham High, is part of an overhaul of the school’s athletic facilities. The $60,000 renovation of the tennis courts and $447,000 replacement of the running track were both completed by the start of this school year.

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The next step is to construct a multipurpose field on the site of the high school’s practice football field.

Funding for the project will be requested at next April’s Town Meeting, but before that happens, School Committee members have to determine the price. The committee plans to request artificial turf.

“We’re one of two schools in our league that doesn’t have synthetic [turf],” said Caryl Falvey, chairwoman of the School Committee. “One person pointed out, when you have all the Ivy League schools and most of the colleges and professional athletes performing on synthetic turf, you know it’s not bad for them. They wouldn’t subject their bodies to that.”

The cost of the project won’t be set until the work goes out to bid in February, but an artificial turf field generally costs $800,000, Falvey said.

According to Falvey, debate about the turf was minimal at a community meeting on the project last week. But residents have expressed concerns about other aspects of the field.

In terms of traffic, the Hingham Police Department has been working on a plan to reconfigure the area, Falvey said.

“Chief [Michael] Peraino is in charge of parking and he spoke [at the community meeting]. We have been working very hard with the Police Department and the parents of children [about] all the issues of parking on Union Street and not using designated spaces,” Falvey said.

“Chief Peraino was able to discuss the plans and recommendations he had made to improve parking, and it allayed a lot of fears. And I think it’s great to know – everyone wants to know we’re working together on solving some of these issues.”

The issue of lighting also remains unresolved.

While the committee hasn’t decided whether to have lights or not, Falvey said that if lights are installed, they should be on tall, rather than short, poles.

Tall light poles “are better for the neighbors because you can direct [light] directly down so there won’t be radiant light,’’ Falvey said.

She added that short poles “don’t work for lacrosse, because then they are glaring in the players’ eyes, which isn’t safe.”

The Ad Hoc Fields Committee will explain its recommendations to the School Committee next Monday. From there, the School Committee will make a recommendation to the town in order to request funding for the project at Town Meeting .

Although it’s been a long process, Falvey said, things have started to move swiftly, and she hopes the community will remain involved as things progress.

“The more people we hear from, the better decisions we make and the better product in the end,” she said.