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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)


STURBRIDGE — It wasn't a good night for recreational fields at Monday's annual town meeting.

Town residents voted 219-118 in favor of spending up to $6.7 million to design, rebuild and equip additional recreational fields.

However, proponents of the hotly debated fields were five votes shy of the needed two-thirds for the article to pass.

Recreation Committee member Dan Thompson spoke on behalf of the proposed Town Barn Field Project on New Boston Road Extension, off Route 131 past the Department of Public Works building.

The proposal included a Little League baseball field, a multi-purpose field and basketball courts; parking for more than 90 vehicles; lights for the fields, basketball courts and parking area; bocce courts; a concession stand and viewing stands; a playground, and landscaping.

Constructions costs would have been $3,625,400 for excavation/site preparation, $214,424 for drainage and utilities, $450,550 for finishing and $1,371,550 for site construction, for a construction subtotal of $5,661,924.

The costs presented also included $169,858 for 3 percent mobilization/general conditions and $849,289 for a 15 percent construction contingency, bringing the total to $6,681,070.

The Town Barn Field Project would have been funded by a $5.7 million debt exclusion vote, and $1 million in Community Preservation Act funds. If it passed at town meeting, it would have also needed to be voted by ballot at the next town election.

In addition, the project would have added approximately 42 cents to the property tax rate for 20 years, which would have raised taxes by $126 for a home valued at $300,000. This became a major sticking point for opponents of the fields.

Town residents voted in a $32,583,228 budget for fiscal 2019, which is a $1,036,700 or 3.3 percent increase from this fiscal year.

Also in the first half of the meeting, voters approved spending $9,500 to continue conservation and restoration work in the North Cemetery; $30,000 to improve the town's trail system; and $15,000 for weatherizing and installing energy-efficient storm windows at Center Office Building.

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June 5, 2018


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