James DeVellis, president of Turf’s Up – a volunteer committee dedicated to bringing a turf field to town, described Monday’s meeting with Foxborough’s School Committee as a “home run.”
“The [School Committee] voted [Monday] to sponsor a warrant article for [Fall] Town Meeting to bring it to the voters,” DeVellis said. “I think there’s enough support.”
DeVellis, who also chairs the Foxborough Board of Selectmen, met with the school committee Monday to present a revised plan to bring a synthetic turf field and track to Foxborough High School. The turf complex would be used by the community as a whole – from youth to high school sports programs and future FHS graduations. DeVellis said when the committee originally envisioned bringing a turf field to Foxborough they did not consider a track and bleachers as part of the project. But at the school committee’s request for both, DeVellis went back to the drawing board and presented the redesign Monday.
“[The school committee] asked me to put a track on [the turf field design],” DeVellis said. “So we redesigned it and adding the track actually fits pretty nice.”
The design originally showed the turf field complex located behind the high school adjacent to Hersey Field, but the committee suggested the field be more prominently located on the high school’s campus to encourage community use.
“The more the committee looked at [the design], they said this is great but [the field is] tucked behind the school and they want it to be more of a centerpiece because they want the community to use it and it to be visible.”
So DeVellis suggested placing it in the area where the Foxborough High School baseball and softball fields are currently located and moving those fields behind the high school adjacent to Hersey Field. The tennis courts would stay at their current location, according to DeVellis. View the photos above for a look at the proposed location.
“From a master plan standpoint, putting the field somewhere where it will make sense for the future of the town [is important],” DeVellis said. “Location near the high school is a big concentration [because it is a] location for youth.”
Turf’s Up considered other locations in town for the field such as replacing the current one at Ahern or constructing one in the Payson Road area but both locations do not eliminate the issue of high school students having to be bused to athletic events.
“If you put it at Payson, you’re still busing kids from the high school and that can’t happen,” said DeVellis. “If we put it at Ahern you’re not getting another field.”
Creating a second field for the Foxborough community has been a goal of the Turf's Up committee since its inception four years ago.
“The biggest thing we are trying to [accomplish is] get an additional field in Foxborough,” DeVellis said. … “We are tying to bring the sports, businesses and community together to do something for the youth.”
DeVellis added that one turf field equals four grass fields and that the cost to maintain a turf field is much less than grass.
“[Turf fields] are reliable, consistent, lower cost to maintain and it is really something for the community,” DeVellis said.
Voters will be asked to support transferring roughly $500,000 of the $1.5 million surplus from the $20 million high school renovation project to the community’s turf field project. The warrant article will likely be presented at this fall’s Town Meeting in December. A date has yet to be announced for that Town Meeting but DeVellis said it could be held Tuesday, Dec. 11.
DeVellis said to date, Turf’s Up has raised about $60,000 through “small fundraising” like canning, Whiffle Ball tournaments, concerts and donations. The committee has also secured a $200,000 grant from the NFL for the construction of a turf field, bringing the volunteer group’s funds for the field to $260,000 or about half of their fundraising goal.
“We are still going to raise $250,000,” DeVellis said.
That would bring Turf’s Up’s contributions to over $500,000.
“We are prepared to go for [$510,000] from us and ask the school for $500,000 so together we reach our $1 million goal,” DeVellis said.
On Monday, the school committee proposed using $1 million of its surplus from the high school renovation project for the turf field but DeVellis advised against that action.
“The school committee said keep your money because they want to spend their money on this and whatever we raised would go into maintenance of the field, etc.,” DeVellis said. ... “Normally, I would have said great and thank you but being a selectman and knowing there would be people [upset] if we did it that way I said we’ll go back and look at [redesigning the project]. … I said no, because the advisory committee and finance committee would not have liked that.”
If the funding for the project is approved at Town Meeting, DeVellis said the turf field and lights would be constructed immediately with the project’s master plan including a track and bleachers to the complex.
“We are finding that the youth sports don’t need the bleachers because they never fill them up but high school football would and graduation would use it,” DeVellis said.
Foxborough has fallen behind other Hockomock League schools with its athletic infrastructure over the years – a gap Turf’s Up hopes to close with the completion of this project.
“[Foxborough’s] Athletic Director [Caitlin Brown] sent us an e-mail [saying] there’s only a couple of teams in the Hock that don’t have a turf field,” DeVellis said. “None of them have the situation where they don’t have a field at their high school. Before it used to be what is [a turf field] and now it’s when are we getting it?”
DeVellis says the community as a whole would benefit from the multi-purpose field.
“Multi-purpose field means you get football, lacrosse and soccer [all on one field],” DeVellis said. … “You’re not going to have all the games on it but you can work it out and make it work.”
For more information on the Turf’s Up committee and FAQ’s about the turf field project, click here.