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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)


WORCESTER — Two sites have been identified in the Great Brook Valley area as possible locations for multipurpose, rectangular athletic fields.

The sites were identified in a comprehensive draft master plan done for the city on the Tacoma Street and Great Brook Valley playgrounds and are among improvements recommended for the two parks.

The study, done by Weston & Sampson, incorporates input that residents and organizations provided at public hearings on the master plan, and it also attempts to address citywide recreational needs.

It proposes construction of a 360-foot-by-240-foot synthetic turf field at the Tacoma Street Playground and a 260-foot-by-150-foot multipurpose field at the Great Brook Valley Playground.

The plan also calls for lighting at both fields.

While the fields would primarily be used for soccer, they could also be used for other sports such as lacrosse, rugby and field hockey.

When the city updated its open space and recreation plan in 2013, a frequent request from residents was more rectangular fields for growing local soccer and lacrosse programs. Since then, the city has worked to identify suitable locations.

The master plan for the Tacoma Street and Great Brook Valley playgrounds will formally go before the City Council Tuesday night. The council is expected to refer the study to its Youth, Parks and Recreation Committee for a public hearing.

The plan has already been approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

City officials emphasized the master plan is not cast in stone and is intended to serve as a community-endorsed guidebook to help phase in improvements as funding becomes available.

"This master plan will assist the city in defining the future of these facilities by developing them to their full potential," said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr.

No money has been set aside in the city's capital budget for the proposed improvements at either playground. In the master plan, Weston & Sampson said it could take at least five to 10 years to implement the recommendations for the two parks.

The cost of the synthetic turf athletic field and other amenities proposed for the Tacoma Street Playground has been tentatively pegged at $2 million. That's part of $6.42 million worth of proposed improvements for the park that include creation of a 27,000-square-foot dog run area for large and small dogs; replacement of outdated playground equipment; creation of a 72-space parking lot; picnic area; and a new pathway system.

Meanwhile, the projected cost of the grass field proposed for the Great Brook Valley Playground has been estimated at $550,000. It is part of $6.35 million worth of improvements proposed for that park that include redesigning and relocating the softball field, constructing new basketball and handball courts and picnic areas and improving the parking lot.

The two playgrounds are near each other. The Tacoma Street Playground, which consists of 19.3 acres, is north of the Great Brook Valley housing complex and is bounded by Tacoma and Clark streets. The Great Brook Valley Playground, which consists of 9.5 acres, is east of the housing complex bounded by the Northeast Cutoff, Brookview Drive and Tacoma Street.

In the study, Weston & Sampson said both playgrounds are underutilized and under-serve the population in that part of the city.

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March 27, 2018


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