Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PARKS: Locked recreational fields

Question/Comment: A resident would like to know why recreational fields are locked. This includes Lincoln Park and the new field at the Capuano School.  S/he thinks it is contradictory to have a "Shape-Up" Somerville program and keep green spaces locked. Additionally,  s/he thinks it is a shame to have a wonderful new school (Argenziano) where children play on asphalt at recess, rather than in a beautiful, large field right next to the school.

City Update 1/6/10: In response to the City's post, residents continue to express dissatisfaction with the situation regarding locked recreational fields. In response to these concerns, this topic was discussed in the staff meeting of the Mayor's Office last week.  It can also be added to the agenda for the Ward 2 spring ResiStat meeting.  In the meantime, residents should discuss this topic with other parties, including neighbors, the principal of the Argenziano and Capuano, their ward alderman, and regular permitted field users to see what has been tried and to consider possible proposals that take into account the concerns raised. As you come up with suggestions, please share them with the Mayor's Office. A meeting to discuss ideas with the Mayor and other stakeholders can be convened in the future.

City Update 12/29/09: While the City would like to open fields at all times, it must place an emphasis on providing the most usable field space for as many residents as possible, given limited resources.  Fields such as those at Lincoln Park and Capuano Field, were painstakingly refurbished for use by youth and adult athletic groups.  Unfortunately, non-permitted, irresponsible groups, primarily made up of adults, have caused significant damage to the fields.  For example, you may have noticed a bare patch on Lincoln Park Field, which made it necessary to move the soccer goals a few feet.  This damage was done when an unpermitted group of adult soccer players played immediately after the rain - a time that any permitted group of athletes would have been informed to stay off the field.  Similar damage has been done to Capuano Field by groups without proper footwear.  In addition to the significant monetary cost to fix such damage, repairs often require the field to be closed, sometimes for months, depending on the extent of the damage.  The City must balance those months of limited field access to youth groups against a few extra hours of play time for non-permitted groups. 

The City of Somerville strongly encourages neighborhood groups to take out field permits and hold monitored play time.  A neighborhood group willing to sponsor open responsible open play time may be eligible for discounted or free field permits, and details can be worked out with the head of Recreation and Youth Services.  We encourage you to gather your friends and neighbors to form a monitored play group at any of the closed fields near you.

With regard to recess, the City is very proud to have maintained it's outdoor recess program, despite significant budget and grant cuts that paid for the recess monitors.  The ability to safely monitor the children during recess is the primary concern of this program, and there are not always sufficient staff to watch children in the larger and less contained space of the field.  If you have an interest in volunteering as a recess program monitor, please let the City know and your contact information will be given to our new volunteer coordinator, who will be attempting to expand city programs such as outdoor recess.

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