Ward Street Grass Roots

A Hingham organization fighting for rational use of our Town’s resources

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1. What was the “bubble” and what happened to it?

The original proposal called for an air-supported structure or “bubble” to enclose the turf field closest to Ward Street from approximately October through April, enabling the field to be used throughout the year and in any weather conditions. It was to be 400′ long x 250′ wide by over 80′ tall. Here is an artists rendering on the Ward Street site.

The WSTFF* proponents removed the bubble from the current plan, due to concerns about its size, its cost, and the pressure the added amount of use would put on the neighborhood and on town resources. However, the Selectmen left the door open for the bubble to be reintroduced in the future.

2. What about the lights? Are they still on the table?

Yes. The plan calls for eight 80′ light towers with banks of 16 lights on each tower, four on the sidelines of each field. In addition, there would be twelve 17′ single lights lighting the parking areas. Because the town has a height restriction limiting lights to 30′ tall, WSTFF* is placing an article on the town meeting warrant requesting that a recreational district overlay be established on the affected 13 acres. This would rezone the area from its current designation of Open Space, to allow lights and concession stands. The proposal needs to pass by a 2/3 vote.

To read the petition click here

3. What did the Selectmen actually approve?

In December, WSTFF* removed the bubble, the stands seating 800 and the locker room building from the plan. They left in the concession stand building with public toilets, bleachers for 200, and lights for planning purposes (subject to town meeting approval), plus the two end-to-end turf fields, 3 parking lots totaling about 200 spaces, and a gravel roadway leading from the front field area to the back meadow. The Selectmen had asked the Recreation Commission to review the WSTFF business plan. Given that approval, the selectmen allowed the project to move forward to the other town boards for permitting.

4. What are the conditions for the revised proposal?

The selectmen imposed 7 conditions on the project, referring to conditions of the gift, costs and management of the fields, the process for seeking approval for lighting and concession stands, a development agreement, and the fact that any future proposals for a bubble will have to go to the Selectmen for approval first. See the complete list here.

5. Why should the rest of the residents of Hingham be concerned about this project? It seems like a generous gift and a great opportunity for our kids.

This project affects many more people than the immediate neighbors, in several ways:

•  The taxpayers of Hingham own this valuable land. We are being asked to give it up for a very specific use that benefits a small number of residents.

•  When the costs of this project exceed the amount of the gift over time, all of the taxpayers of Hingham will bear the burden.
•  The South Hingham aquifer and the Plymouth River run alongside this property. Any contaminated groundwater will eventually run into the town wells. Plus, at least 63 families rely on water from private wells abutting this land.
•  The children who play on these fields come from all of Hingham and from out of town. They will be exposed to potentially harmful substances and extreme heat when playing on the turf fields. Many athletes prefer to play on grass.
•  Increased use of these fields, especially in the evening, will increase traffic at already congested and dangerous intersections – Cushing and Ward and High Street and Ward – and increase travel times on a popular route connecting south and north Hingham.
•  When more than 13 acres of open space are converted to commercial recreational use, precious natural resources are lost. The impact on wildlife and habitat is irreversible.
•  By choosing to maintain the land for more natural recreational use, our children can learn valuable lessons about taking care of our environment, and managing resources responsibly.

* WSTFF: Ward Street Turf Field Fund, the name for the proponents of the plan