Hadley CPA committee votes to fund school playing fields

  • Jenna Martin, left, of Frontier Regional, begins a pass as Gabby Dyjack, of Hopkins Academy, approaches during a game on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Hopkins. The Community Preservation Act Committee voted 5-1 last week in favor of using $400,000 from the CPA account to begin developing new playing fields for Hopkins. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • The Community Preservation Act Committee voted last week to devote $190,000 to complete upgrades at Zatyrka Park in Hadley, shown here as of Aug. 24, 2017. The money will go toward a $320,398 project that will include new trails, a playground, a parking lot, a basketball half court and a welcome garden, as well as fences. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2017

HADLEY — Long-awaited new athletic fields at Hopkins Academy that will allow all student-athletes to play and practice at the Route 9 school are a step closer to being developed.

The Community Preservation Act Committee voted 5-1 last week in favor of using $400,000 from the CPA account, which has more than $2 mil lion available, to move forward with the first phase of the project. The spending will be on the warrant for the Oct. 5 special Town Meeting.

The new ballfields would use a portion of 8 acres of agricultural land acquired for school use in fall 2011 that was intended to double the size of the athletic fields.

School Committee Vice Chairman Paul Phifer said the first phase will create a second softball field and a third multi-use field that will primarily be used for soccer. The fields are needed, Phifer said, because the district has paid to shuttle some student-athletes to the Young Men’s Club on East Street and the Hadley Elementary School on River Drive.

“Not all teams can practice or compete at Hopkins,” Phifer said.

The project includes irrigation and a paved walkway for handicapped access on the perimeter.

Peter Wells of the Berkshire Design Group of Northampton designed the project, which includes a second phase that would redo the existing two baseball diamonds and softball field.

An additional wish list includes scoreboards, restrooms and a concession stand.

To build support for the project, Phifer said the community has been engaged in the planning, providing assurances that there will be no lighting of the fields and that residents can use them when not needed by the schools. The town’s Park and Recreation department will work with the schools to schedule use of the field during off hours.

More than $100,000 will be raised from local organizations and businesses to supplement the CPA appropriation.

“Our next step is to begin banging the drum,” Phifer said.

If construction is done in 2018, the fields will be put to use in 2019.

Meanwhile, CPA Committee Chairman Andy Morris-Friedman said the committee also recommended a $35,500 appropriation to construct a new pavilion at the Hadley Elementary School, and $190,000 to complete upgrades at Zatyrka Park.

The pavilion is a project of the PTO and includes $10,000 in donations to match the town money.

Work at Zatyrka Park, at the corner of Breckenridge and Huntington roads, is already underway, with the removal of a fence surrounding a former baseball diamond and demolition of old tennis courts last year.

The CPA money that will go toward the $320,398 project will be used to build trails, a playground, a parking lot, a basketball half court and a welcome garden, as well as fences.

Friends of Zatyrka Park member David Elvin said Omasta Landscape of Hadley is doing the final work of 2017, getting the site ready for winter by seeding and stabilizing the hill at the back of the property and planting a dozen or so trees. The park should be ready for a Memorial Day 2018 opening.

A fourth project, painting Town Hall, will be put off. The proposal was not submitted to the CPA Committee in time.

Town Administrator David Nixon said there is still interest in painting the 1840 building, last done a decade ago. The work wouldn’t be done during the cold weather months in any case.

“No harm, no foul,” Nixon said.