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Chairman Todd Shafer suggested school officials speak with the leagues about sharing the field.
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BArT Principal April West said the school is joining a small-school athletic league.

Heavy Field Usage Leaves Charter School on Sidelines

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The parks commissioners felt the Valley Street field was too tied up with local soccer leagues to give room for Berkshire Arts & Technology to use.

ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School was denied field usage by the Parks Commission because of scheduling conflicts.

BArT Principal April West asked the commission if the Valley Street field could be used for its expanding after-school athletics program. The school will join the River Valley Athletic League, comprised of 10 private and charter schools.

"We have had limited after-school athletics for our students for most of our time in existence, but we recently joined a small-school athletic league that is more of an intermural level of competition," West said.

She said nearly 50 kids would participate in the program and there would be a girls and boys team that would face other small schools.

Although the league contains a small amount of children, both the Adams Soccer Club and the Adams Cheshire Savoy Soccer Association use the field during the week and the weekend.

Commission member James Fassell said the commission has to give priority to the town leagues because they have already been given the right to use the field and service more kids.

"I think the word to use here is coordination because clearly the people that are there now have traditionally had first priority over it," Fassell said.

Commission member Jacob Schutz recommended that the league use the outfield at Reid Field. Although the field is small, the league could still practice on it. The league would also have to supply its own lines and goals.

Fassell said the field would be way too small to play soccer.

"It's going to be more like a third of a field; it is going to be tiny," he said. "The width alone is going to be almost prohibitive, and…I personally think that Reid field is inappropriate for soccer. It is no longer than 40 yards wide at the best."

Chairman Todd Shafer said the commission cannot make a decision because of the conflicts and more information is needed.

"I don't think I can vote to request the approval of this because we don't seem to have the field space," Shafer said. "I think that it might make some sense to go look at Reid Field to see if it is something you can use … but at this point we have a conflict with time and dates."

The commission recommended that the school meet with the directors of the soccer leagues to see if they can coordinate with them, then meet with the commission again.

In addition to field usage, Shafer said he met with Town Administrator Jonathan Butler and discussed issues with funding for Russell Field.

Last town meeting, the commission recommended that $10,000 be appropriated for studies for Russell Field for its eventual renovation. Instead the money was appropriated for the infield at Renfrew Field.

Butler said the town will be able to receive grants for Russell Field in the next few years for a full renovation. At the moment the grants are not available for Adams.

"That grant money is not handed out every year so we are not in any position to go out for it right now," Shafer said. "But in a few years, the town is going to take a very aggressive stance about getting the grants so they are apprehensive toward any short-term fixes."

The board also discussed conflicts of interest in the town's sports leagues.

Fassell made a motion to recommend to the Selectmen that that board make a rule that does not allow coaches to sit on the leagues' boards of directors.

The other commissioners felt this would be wrong because it is not in the commission's purview, or the Selectmen's.

"We have nothing to do with how these leagues are run, we have nothing to do with their finances, and we really have nothing to do with who is on their board of directors or who coaches," Shafer said. "Our function is to decide to allow organizations to use fields or not."

The motion failed.

Tags: BArT,   parks commission,   playing fields,   sports fields,   youth soccer,   

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