Town of Sharon
Sacred Heart Reuse Committee
Meeting Minutes of 1/30/12
Amended and Approved on 2/13/12
Sharon Community Center
Karen Friedman, Chair
Jim Michael - absent
Michael Ginsberg - resigned
Larry Seggelin - absent
Greg Meister – Conservation Commission
Brett MacGowan, Recreation Director
Ms. Friedman called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. She stated that the Committee issued an RFP for the Sacred Heart property but received no responses. She questioned if this was because of the way the land is formatted. She wants to establish a final understanding of what can be moved on the property if anything and also wants to clarify the purpose of the land between the tennis court and the fields.
Greg Meister of the Conservation Commission said that Parcels N and F are unrestricted. Unless they are recreation related nothing can be done with the property unless a request was made to the National Park Service which is a very difficult process to navigate and receive a change.
Brett MacGowan of the Recreation Department said the land between the tennis court and the gardens is used as overflow parking for the baseball games.
Mr. Davis asked what the hurdle would be with the Park Service and Mr. Meister commented that you would need to have a replacement parcel for recreation or open space. He commented that the Park Service did not want the last conversion that added Parcel F. The hurdles are impossible he said. Parcel F is unrestricted except for what Town Meeting voted on.
Mr. Davis said if we agreed to put Parcel F into the National Park, would they allow parking use on the land between the garden and the tennis courts. Mr. Meister said that public money was used to build the tennis courts. Parcel F is 2.2 acres. The Park Service said they will not bother with that.
Mr. Davis said that one reason for not receiving any responses is that the footprint of the land is 5 plus acres. It is small if you have to find parking within the 5.5 acres as it is confining.
Mr. Meister said the National Park Service is tired of the park being converted. Parking is allowed with Parcels N and F related to uses approved at Town Meeting. For anything outside of this there is no parking. Long term parking on the field would need to go to the National Park Service.
Mr. Keenan asked if brand new tennis courts are being installed at the Middle School.
Mr. MacGowan said yes. The High School team uses the courts at Deborah Sampson Park. They are looking to replace the lighting with more efficient lighting.
Mr. Davis said that when and if the structure comes down on Parcel F, what is the wetlands restriction relative to this?
Mr. Meister said the building would have to be outside of the 100 foot buffer. Any new clearing or encroachment would have to be within 50 feet of the skating pond.
Mr. Davis asked if the skating pond is that only sensitive area and Mr. Meister said yes it is basically only wetlands.
Ms. Friedman thanked Mr. Meister for coming to the meeting and asked Mr. MacGowan for an update from the Recreation Department.
Mr. MacGowan said that based on Parcel F and N the skate park has been removed, the lot has been paved and 25 parking spaces were added. He suggested that these spaces will be used as overflow parking for the commuter station. He said the Selectmen asked him to look into creating a field. He said 700 children play soccer and baseball and there is not enough field space. The soccer group is looking to put in a 40 by 60 foot field which would fit in Parcel F. Pop Warner could use the fields as well as the Stars program from the schools. He also had Town Engineer, Peter O’Cain draw lacrosse filed on the property. If a lacrosse field fits then a football field would fit as well.
Mr. Straus asked if the building was torn down and trees had to be removed would that be a problem. Mr. Meister said that you cannot be within 50 feet of the pond but tree removal was okay.
Ms. Friedman asked if someone could build on Parcel F and clear the entire space.
Mr. Meister said he thinks the property is on a scenic road and would need buffering for the neighborhood. The Conservation Commission would not be responsible for this.
Mr. Keenan asked if the proposed field would be turf and Mr. MacGowan said it would be grass as turf is very expensive. He also said the field would have to be fenced to accommodate the dog park.
Mr. Keenan suggested the Town demolish the building and hire an outside company to remove the debris. Mr. Gladstone said that the larger cost is probably the debris removal.
Mr. MacGowan also stated that he is looking into putting fields on the Town land fill which is 11 acres. This is still in the infancy stage waiting for direction from the Board of Selectmen. He said the property could only be used during the day because there is no lighting.
Mr. Davis said that the Committee has spoken to various athletic groups last fall and asked Mr. MacGowan if he has a more global perspective of what the town needs to get the most use.
Mr. MacGowan said a multi use fields like Ames Street is needed.
Ms. Friedman asked if the Town charges to use the fields.
Mr. MacGowan said that sports groups do pay to use the fields as the maintenance cost is $15,000 - $17,000 per year. Field fees cover about one half of the costs for their maintenance.
Ms. Friedman asked if the building was torn down and an RFP issued, would the sports groups step up. She asked if he had a cost for the field and Mr. MacGowan said not yet. He expressed that the existing parking would be sufficient if a new field was built. He said the Recreation Department would regulate the fields so parking could be controlled.
Mr. Davis asked Mr. MacGowan to explore the costs to build a new field.
Ms. Friedman suggested that maybe grants can be obtained to help build the fields. Mr. MacGowan said he will begin conversations with the sports groups to look for multipurpose grants and wants the Stars group to be the first priority. He said a multi purpose field serves a more varied population.
Mr. Straus reported that a few months ago the Transportation Board was invited to talk to the Council on Aging. They received a grant to purchase a shuttle bus for limited commuter service to the train station in order to alleviate parking at Sharon Street. There would be 25 spaces at Crescent Ridge and 25 spaces at Sacred Heart. There would be two trips in the morning and two at night, Monday to Friday.
Ms. Friedman asked if there is a need for extra parking. Mr. Straus said that discounted spots are in demand. A conversation amongst the Committee members ensued.
Mr. Davis said it is interesting that all groups said parking was an issue at the field and now spots are being taken away for shuttle service. He asked if we are committed to the parking for a specified amount of time. Mr. Straus said he was unsure.
The next step for the Committee is to meet with the Board of Selectmen at 7:35 PM on February 7th to provide them with a summary report of the process followed and the options suggested. The reasons for the non success of the RFP include size of the parcel, the economy, the restriction on the land, the building itself, parking and ground water. The options for recommendations are for the Town to remove the building. There is a placeholder on the warrant should it need to be an article.
Mr. Davis said he is unsure of the impact of parking at Sacred Heart. One reason for lack of interest is limited parking. To now take away 25 spots is a safety issue if another field is added. He is not sure if the space should be used for overflow parking for commuters.
Mr. Straus said he will contact the Senior Center to see what the long term parking plan is.
Ms. Friedman said she would also provide an update from Mr. Meister and the fact the there is room for a small multi purpose field for younger kids.
Mr. Gladstone suggested that maybe issuing a new RFP is worth thinking of and Mr. Straus said he would hate to spend a year on the RFP to not get any results. Mr. Davis said even though the building is an obstacle, no one asked about the property. There is a community need for more outdoor recreation space. Mr. Straus thinks a field is a good idea.
Mr. Davis moved to recommend that the Sacred Heart building be removed and that the Recreation Department determine the most efficient way to use the land space as suggested that a new field be built. Mr. Straus seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0-0 in favor.
Mr. Gladstone moved to approve the minutes of 1/17/12. Mr. Straus seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0-0 in favor.
Mr. Straus moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 PM and Mr. Davis seconded the motion. The Committee voted 5-0-0 in favor.
1. Sacred Heart Property Map