Dracut Fields in Line for $4.4M Boost Via Community Preservation Fund

February 21, 2019
The popular splash pad at Veterans Memorial Park in Dracut is targeted for an upgrade with Community Preservation funds, if Town Meeting agrees. sun file photo Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

DRACUT -- Seven of the town’s sports fields are in line for complete overhauls thanks to $4.4 million in funding the Community Preservation Commission approved this week.

Town Manager Jim Duggan and School Superintendent Steven Stone submitted a joint request to the CPC. The $4.4 million will allow “site preparation for two artificial turf fields and other associated recreation improvements” at Dracut High School and the renovation of five Veterans Park ballfields for better field drainage, according to the application to the CPC.

The two town officials agreed in January to work jointly on this effort. By working jointly, they can better coordinate activities on these fields and ensure sports teams can play without interruption. If the project is approved by voters at an upcoming Town Meeting, the new athletic fields would be available for the 2020 football season.

Hundreds of Dracut children use the fields at Veterans Park for Pop Warner football, lacrosse, soccer, Little League baseball, and flag football. Walkers make substantial use of the paved walkway and a splash pad is heavily used in the summer.

Because the fields get such heavy use and remain soggy after rainstorms, games are often canceled or postponed. Materials under the playing fields do not fully drain, and storms continue to damage them.

The splash pad also needs extensive work, including new plumbing lines, a new concrete pad and rubber pad over the concrete to cushion falls.

The total funding for the Veterans’ Park overhaul is $1.6 million and all of it is covered by the CPC decision.

The high school project began with a plan to renovate the football stadium facility, but what emerged was a proposal for a multipurpose athletic stadium, a renovated track and a second playing field. The second field will be suitable for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. The total request to the CPC was $2.8 million.

The playing surfaces at the high school will be synthetic and are not eligible for CPC funds. In their submission to the CPC, Duggan and Stone indicated the CPA eligible funding of $4.4. million “will be bonded on future Community Preservation revenues.” The cost for synthetic surfaces at the high school is approximately $1 million and, according to Duggan, will be bonded and paid for through the general fund.

Under the Community Preservation Act, local Community Preservation Funds are financed through a surcharge on property taxes of no more than 3 percent. Dracut’s surcharge is two percent. In addition, the CPA created a statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund administered by the Department of Revenue. The DOR distributes funds to member communities on an annual basis.

Dracut is one of 175 communities in the state that are eligible for CPA funding because it voted by ballot referendum to adopt the law. Most communities in the region adopted the CPA. Exceptions include Lowell, Methuen and Lawrence.