Adams Parks Commission Baffled by Field Funding

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Parks Commission is seeking ways to better communicate with the rest of town government after a project they had not recommended as a top priority was funded at town meeting.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Parks Commission said the $10,000 Renfrew Field infield renovation written into this year's town budget is not their No. 1 priority.

Although the budget item passed town meeting and was introduced as the Parks Commission’s main goal, Chairman Todd Shafer said it was actually No. 7 on the list of priorities.

Shafer said the commissioners voted that the study and plan of expanding Russell Field was their main goal.

"That is what we actually voted on, and it was a surprise to see that the same amount of money was actually in the budget for a completely different project," Shafer said.  

Although the Parks Commission is only an advisory board, Shafer believes the Selectmen and town administrator were not made aware of their priority list.

"We don't have the authority to say yes or no, but we come down here and spend our time, we listen to the people, and we decide what our priority is and that somehow got lost in translation," he said.

Shafer said other items on the list included picnic areas along the bike trail, access to the Russell Field tennis courts, and mulching of the playgrounds.

The infield project on the list was estimated to cost $6,000 but Shafer does not know why it changed.

"Now there is $10,000 in the budget for something that I think was supposed to be $6,000," he said. "… I don't know how that number gets there, and I don’t know how that project gets to the top."

Commissioner James Fassell said he heard money was added to the project to completely redo the infield. The original estimate was a limited project that would only replace parts of the troublesome infield.

Some town meeting members questioned the $10,000 budget item and wished the money would go to a field that is in more need of repair. Commissioner Scott Cernik said he received calls from people upset about the decision.

Shafer said he backs the taxpayers and wishes the money could go where the people wanted it to. However, since it passed in town meeting it cannot be touched.

"The taxpayers are giving the money to have Renfrew Field's infield done; if 90 percent of the taxpayers want Russell Field fixed, I don’t want $10,000 to go to Renfrew Field," he said. "… If we have $10,000 to spend I want to make sure every penny of that is spent for the benefit of the town."

Selectman and Parks Commission liaison Joseph Nowak said the Selectmen thought they received the Parks Commission's priority projects when they voted on the budget.

"We did vote on it, but we were never made aware that there were different priorities; we just took for granted that when that came forward from a recommendation from the Parks Commission that that is what you wanted," Nowak said.

The commission thought the selectmen received all of their minutes, however, all of the recommendations go to Parks Supervisor David Nuvaille and field usage recommendations go to Town Administrator Jonathan Butler. During the budget process Nuvaille and Butler discuss what goes into the budget and are ultimately responsible for the decision.

Commissioner Jacob Schutz said the commissioners did what they were supposed to do and if they do not like how the system works, they should try to change it.

"That is the process as I know it, that is the process we followed, and that is the outcome we got," Schutz said. "If we don’t like it we can change it."

Nowak said he will look for answers for the Parks Commission and urged that the members meet with Butler to discuss the communication issues.

Tags: ballfield,   fiscal 2015,   parks commission,   renovation,   

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