Adams to Address Safety Concerns at Russell Field
ADAMS, Mass. — The town will evaluate safety issues at Russell Field and try to make in-house improvements.
With the Russell Field Renovation Project delayed at least another season, the Parks Commission agreed to put efforts into resolving a few safety issues at the park — specifically with the softball field.
"Let's get this thing up and going," Chairman Scott Cernik said on Monday. "We will push this and try to get it taken care of ... because this safety issue needs to be taken care of."
The town is still in the design phase of the project and has not yet secured funds, likely from a grant, to actually renovate the park.
The field has been a concern for many residents, especially softball parents and coaches.
Corey Bishop of the Adams Lassie League said most notably the chain link fence and the backstop are safety concerns. He said the infield is also not evenly graded and grounders often enter the outfield in midair.
"There is a lip so what looks like a grounder all of the sudden is an in-facer," he said. "It has enough of a lip that it shoots the ball into the air ... I get nervous every time the kids play ... in the long of it I see where you are going but in the short of it we have to do something."
Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said the Department of Public Works may be able to do many of the small improvements. She suggested holding a meeting between the commission, the Lassie League, and the DPW to figure out what can be done.
As for the actual design of the park, Cernik admitted that the commission had put the brakes on the project for some time, however, he recently contacted the design group the town was working with to start the effort back up again.
"We are going to get back on this project and we are excited to get this going and to see where we stand," Cernik said. "We need to get this committee back up and running so we can move this forward and apply for the grant."
He said he hopes to be able to apply in the next Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant cycle.
With these immediate needs at Russell, the commission agreed for the time being to abandon the installation of a T-ball field at Hoosac Valley Elementary School.
Commissioner James Fassell had told the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee that the town could install the field but Cesan said there is simply not enough staffing at this point in time.
"It's is not that we don't want to do it we just don't have the staffing," she said. "But we can continue to talk about this and work together and find a way to tackle it."
Fassell said, for the time being, he will hand the project off to the school district.
In other business, the Parks Commission will explore a new fee structure for teams using the town fields that will partially reimburse them.
"It may be a way to evaluate the use of the fields and at the end of the season we can make sure everything was done correctly such as the fields are cleaned, and keys returned," Cesan said. "This is very standard across the country."
Cesan said the fee would allow the commission some more funds to put back into the fields as well as create an impetus for teams to be mindful of how they treat the fields.
She said a team may pay $500 at the start of a season and the commission could work out parameters on how to reimburse. The commission may reimburse more to local teams or teams that take better care of the fields.
Cernik said he was for exploring the new policy and that the commission has approached the subject in the past but is wary about charging local youth teams. He said he felt this policy would allow some flexibility.
Commissioner Cynthia Bird said she was also interested in exploring the idea but felt before she voted on a policy she would need to know exactly where the money would go, how it would be reimbursed, and how the field condition would be surveyed.
"Just knowing how the fields are maintained or sometimes the lack of it I would be hesitant to have our league turn over $500," she said. "After that, we wouldn't want a field that was not in good working order ... I would want to know where and what this money would be used for."
Cesan agreed that these questions needed to be answered and said the town would research and draft a policy for the commission's consideration.
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