Ward Street Grass Roots

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

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Grass to Artificial

TWO: The change in use from 1 playing field to 2 playing fields.

By adding one field, the turf field project increases by 8 to 10 times the number of hours the fields are used – from the current level of about 300 hours a year on one field to 2000 hours a year for two fields with no lights, or 3500 hours a year if lights are installed. Their business plan depends on such constant use. As an example, they plan to use the fields for 11 hours a day – each field – every Saturday and Sunday from April through October. This completely changes the character of the neighborhood.

With 10 times the amount of use, comes a huge increase in everything else, and it becomes constant. We are concerned about constant noise (not just the happy sounds, like kids playing and cheering, but yelling, whistles, horns, cars, loudspeakers – all weekend and into the evening) in a formerly quiet neighborhood, and trash – even with receptacles, the trash blows everywhere, piling up under bushes and clogging wetlands and generally looking – trashy. Those of us who walk that area regularly pick up trash already. Do we have enough DPW staff in a department that is already stretched thin, to manage the constant trash pick-up and general maintenance that will be needed to keep the entire facility looking decent and functioning properly? The last thing we need, for the neighborhood and for the town’s investment, is to let it get run-down.

And then there’s traffic and parking:

The town did a peer review of the proponent’s traffic study. The peer reviewer sent the study back, with a long list of questions needing more detail. It has not been resubmitted as yet. But all of us who live in Hingham know that the intersections at Ward and Cushing and Ward and High Streets (already marked a dangerous intersection) are inadequate NOW. With up to 10 times the amount of use, traffic will increase dramatically as well, often in peak after-work hours and on weekend mornings when it’s already non-stop. The existing intersections at High/Ward and Cushing/Ward can’t take the added use. This route is one of the 2 main routes between North and South Hingham, including going south to Rte 3, Derby Street Shoppes, Linden Ponds, South Shore Hospital, and north to the landfill, Plymouth River School, the train station in Jackson Square, downtown Hingham, Rte 3A, and the new Shipyard. It’s busy, and traffic will only continue to grow as Hingham gets built out. With two fields being used at once, and up to 200 cars coming and going every couple of hours, this plan will have to allow for police details at the entrance to the field and at both major intersections at all peak hours of use, or there will be lines at both ends of Ward Street, rivaling those that occur regularly at both ends of Cushing now.

We are concerned about parking and provision for emergency response. The plan calls for 200 spaces; however, the lots are gravel. Lines will not be painted; and their plan allows only 20’ between rows of parked cars; we feel that 24’ would be more realistic. People park helter-skelter when there are no lines; in effect, there will be far fewer than 200 spaces available. Also, everyone tries to park as close to the game as possible. Inevitably, there will be people who park on the street, or tucked into spaces that are not really spaces. And when there are tournaments held, where is the overflow parking lot? With this layout of 2 fields shoehorned into the available space, and the parking lot in between, when the lots are full we are concerned that there will not be adequate space for cars to turn around, or for cars who are dropping off and picking up to line up without blocking parked cars or extending into the street.  We see no place for buses to park. And, if/when an ambulance or emergency vehicle has to access the far field, how can we be sure that that driveway and parking lot will be clear enough for it to pass? What about the fire engine that accompanies it? We all know there will be injuries. With 10 times the use, there could be 10 times the rate of emergency response.

On-street parking is completely unacceptable – and illegal. The curbed sidewalk is on the same side of the street as the fields, so cars will be parked on the roadway, making it even more dangerous to pass by, and impeding the sight-lines of the cars, bicyclists and pedestrians coming in and out of the driveway at the same time. Emergency vehicles use Ward Street regularly to get to South Shore Hospital. With increased traffic and congestion, these vehicles will be delayed. Again, regular police details will be absolutely necessary for the safety of all.

The current use of the one field is reasonable and natural, changing with the seasons and the daylight hours. Increasing the frequency of use by up to 10 times would add a level of constant activity and resulting traffic and noise that would be unsafe and would completely alter the quiet nature of this area. Ward Street is already filling in with houses on the northern half of the street. And Black Rock, a development that adds large numbers of tax dollars to the town, will continue to grow. Maintaining relatively undeveloped natural land at that end of the street adds value to all of our properties, does NOT add stress to the already dangerous intersections at either end, and serves as an accessible resource of open space for everyone in the town of Hingham.

SEE: Traffic Engineering Study Peer Review by Jeff Dirk here