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Hingham Planning Board to set tone for high school field developments

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  December 3, 2012 04:07 PM

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Plans to renovate and expand the athletic fields at Hingham High School are in the hands of the town’s Planning Board as the group looks to review the renovation proposal during its Monday night meeting.

The Board will look at the town’s plans for the space, which include the construction of a multi-purpose game field, resurfacing of the varsity lacrosse/field hockey field, reconstruction of the varsity baseball field, relocation of the junior varsity softball field, and additional parking.

The plans will also look at amenities associated with the project, including seating, scoring components, fencing, concessions, rest rooms, and equipment storage.

So far, school officials have been optimistic of the plan, developing a usage policies for the multi-purpose fields that was adopted at the Hingham School Committee on Wednesday night.

“The usage policy was a collaborative effort and I feel we worked really hard to accommodate the neighbors,” said School Committee chair Caryl Falvey in an email.

Based on recommendations from an Ad Hoc Fields Committee, the policy mainly focuses on the times events can begin and end with an emphasis on the use of lights and sound equipment.

Yet for neighbors, even a proposal somewhat limiting use of the field in the early mornings or evenings isn’t enough of a mitigation.

“The neighborhood still has a concern,” said Beth Rockoff, a nearby resident.

According to Rockoff, although there may be potential restrictions on a sound system, it would still be additional noise neighbors don’t currently have to deal with. Additionally the parking concerns in the area are too severe already to think about an expanded use of the fields.

Rockoff is hopeful that the Planning Board will agree, as there has been a precedent set by previous votes of the planning board limiting lighting, turf fields, and concession stands at other fields throughout town.

In 2010, the town voted no for both lights and turf at the Ward Street field. At the Lynch Memorial Field off Beal Street, a potential PA system was denied, and at Carlson Field, a sound system was determined to be too detrimental to the surrounding residential area, Rockoff said.

“The neighborhood asks for the same quality of life that was provided to other neighborhoods to be provided to this residential neighborhood,” Rockoff said.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday to begin to discuss the issues.

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