Monday, 10 December 2018
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West Newbury voters tackle 13 articles Monday night

WEST NEWBURY ­— Voters gather on Monday to consider 13 articles on a Special Town Meeting warrant, including a possible first step for expanded recreational use of the Dunn Property. Voters take up the warrant at 7 p.m. in the Town Annex, 379 Main St. A quorum of 40 is needed for Special Town Meetings, except for appropriations over $20,000, which require at least 90 voters.

With participation in organized youth sports on the rise in recent years, the Park and Recreation Commissioners propose spending $51,500 in Community Preservation Act funds for an engineering study. Appearing as Article 5 on the warrant, the request ultimately aims to facilitate a vision and to project cost estimates for both short and long-term active and passive recreational activities. The study, which would initially focus on access roads and parking at the upper part of Dunn Field adjacent to Pipestave and at least one grass athletic field, would be completed by next summer. Voters would be asked to fund a plan at a Special Town Meeting in fall 2019.

In 2010, commissioners sent out a survey to residents that drew about a 30 percent response. The feedback was used to develop a phased-in plan for active and passive recreation for land formerly known as the Daley property, behind the American Legion Hall. In 2011 Town Meeting voted against using $1.1 million in CPA funds to buy the Daley property to meet the town’s growing recreational needs. After that, commissioners used the ideas generated in the master plan as a jumping off point for the proposed recreational expansion on Pipestave Hill, where growing field usage by town and school teams is creating parking and access issues for the various stakeholders. In addition to organized sports, Pipestave Hill is frequented by hikers, runners, horseback riders, birders and nature lovers, and residents seeking to use the recycling area, among others.

Items prioritized on the 2010 recreational master plan included an outdoor basketball court — which voters subsequently funded next to the Action Cove playground — along with a 50/70 baseball field, multi-purpose athletic field, restroom facility with storage space, two tennis courts, two paddleball courts, walking or hiking trails, health wellness center or recreation building containing a storage space, an indoor basketball court, swimming pool, and office space, according to recreation commissioners. A dog park was added in 2017 after the concept was proposed by some residents.

The Daley property, adjacent to the Bachelor Street fields and Action Cove, was subsequently sold to a developer and is now the site of a housing development known as Drake’s Landing.

The Board of Selectmen, CPC and Finance Committee recommend approval of Article 5, but others in town are opposed to the idea and have organized a campaign to stop it on Town Meeting floor.

“Rushing to develop more fields on Dunn Field is a short-sighted approach that will degrade our open space for uncertain future needs,” contends the grassroots group known as Save Dunn’s Field. ( While trends in sports will come and go. “natural landscapes, once developed, are gone forever,” states the group’s website. In addition, they note, the population is getting older and West Newbury should not have to shoulder so many of the needs of the regional school district’s sport teams. A proposed $151 million Middle/High School building project should be designed with more athletic fields, including ones with artificial turf, the group says.

The group is critical of the recreation board’s process. which it says should have included facilitated public meetings on the best use of the town’s resources in this regard. 

Other money articles on the warrant include: $30,000 to develop and implement a post-closure landfill-monitoring program for the Steele Landfill; $50,000 to fund additional costs for disposal of recycled materials; $4,000 to fund architectural and/or engineering services to review proposed or potential Annex designs for an inter-generational community center; $2,500 to fund temporary office support in the Town Manager/Selectmen Office; and $220,000 to reduce the current year tax rate.

Article 9 on the warrant, a zoning amendment to the Open Space Preservation Development Bylaw, will be slightly edited by planners when the motion is made on Town Meeting floor. The edits, pertaining to buffer areas for OSPDs, were the results of input from a public hearing held on Oct 16. See the town’s website www/ for further information on the changes. Planners are also proposing a zoning change to language in the Large Scale Ground Mounted Solar Voltaic Overlay District bylaw


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