The board approved the CDBG application after Wednesday's public hearing.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday approved this year's Community Development Block Grant application that includes funds to renovate Russell Field.
"It would provide needed improvements to a very highly utilized public facility," interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan explained about using the federal CDBG monies for the sports field. "It is within the downtown, it is along the [Ashuwillticook] Rail Trail, and the park is home to a number of youth sports teams."
This project has been in the hopper for some time and for at least the past five years, the Parks Commission has steadily had it on its priority agenda.
The project ramped up in 2018 when coaches and parents expressed their concerns about the condition of the field that they felt was a danger to the players.
"Currently, the park is in very poor condition. The turf is severely worn and uneven, which creates tripping hazards, and the backstop and the fencing in the park is not regulation," Cesan said. "The dugouts are poor and do not protect the players."
The project has since been in a design phase but in the interim, the town made stop-gap fixes including small improvements to the infield, backstop, and drainage.
Rebecca Ferguson of the Community Development Office went over some of the proposed improvements and said the infield itself will be "bumped out" to create more room.
There will be new dugouts and new lighting, more entrances, better access to watch games, and the park will finally be compliant with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
The field also will be regraded and the fencing will be replaced to meet regulations.
Ferguson said the tennis courts are currently unplayable and that they will be resurfaced and repainted. There will also be the addition of a pickleball court.
She concluded that the playground will be upgraded and they will add adult fitness equipment.
Scott Cernik, chairman of the Parks Commission and a member of the Russell Field Steering Club, said the project has been on his mind since joining the committee and that the committee wanted the park to be accessible by all.
"We looked to bring in every generation of the town with multiple uses," he said. "We wanted to give more people access to it ... I think this has just been a big, big project."
Council on Aging Director and Steering Committee member Erica Girgenti agreed and said the new park will bring people to Adams.
"This project alone will be a huge selling point for new families moving in," she said. "Not just young families but retired people looking to come to the Berkshires ... it is so close to the downtown. You could play catch, workout and walk right back downtown."
Cesan said the project is estimated to cost $460,000 with $39,825 tacked on for program delivery.
She much of the logistics would still have to be worked out because the town would be down a field for a season but if the funds are awarded, the project could go out to bid this fall.
"The work cannot occur during the winter so there may be some trade-off," she said. "Brand-new field; one-year loss of play. We will encounter that issue if we have the good fortune of receiving the funding."
The town can apply for up to $800,000 and a portion of this will go toward housing rehabilitation. This amount is estimated to cost $224,000 with $46,275 in program delivery added on.
"We have talked about this and it has been a few years since we have had it," Cesan said. "With over half the town's population considered low to moderate income, I think there is a need in the community."
The town will be applying for funds to accommodate eight rehabilitation projects and will focus on units in the Route 8 corridor.
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