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Turf Appeal Could Delay High School Project

Group of 10 residents appealing construction of artificial surface with Department of Environmental Protection.

A group of residents recently appealed the decision to build a turf field at the new Wilmington High School, something Town Manager Michael Caira said could delay construction and increase project costs.

The Conservation Commission approved the turf installation as a part of the planning, but 10 residents believe the town did not take the proper measures to assure the surrounding area will not be impacted.

As a result, the residents appealed with the Department of Environmental Protection. Caira said if the DEP appeal is denied, there are multiple other steps the group can take if they desire.

“If their intent is to prolong this, it’s very likely that it will have an impact on our ability to meet our timeline goals and it will likely have an impact on the budget,” said Caira. “It’s pretty disconcerting, but they have the right to the appeal and it’s a process we have to go through.”

Construction of the field was slated to begin this spring, and the surface would then be ready for use this fall.

Resident George Lingenfelter is among the those appealing the turf field. Lingenfelter said he is concerned about the disturbance of the environment around the school property, and added that he doesn’t believed the town followed the proper procedure.

“It looked like (the town) wasn’t concerned if it met the regulations or not, or at least that was my impression,” said Lingenfelter. “If they want to shoehorn the project onto the property, they have to do what the regulations say. It’s not our fault that it may cost more.”

Caira said the turf was chosen because it will extend the life of the field and will help provide rest to other local fields because other groups in town will be able to utilize the artificial surface.

The Town Manager also said it is unfortunate that a small group of residents is delaying a project that was approved by a large margin and and .

“I think it’s disappointing that a few people can usurp the decision and determination of a large, large majority of the citizens in the town,” said Caira. “They want this project the way it has been proposed. To delay that is unfortunate and contrary to the stated intentions of the residents in town.”

Lingenfelter said he believes the town used scare tactics in the days leading up to the vote by sending home fliers with students urging their parents to vote for the school.

“They misrepresented the project,” said Lingenfelter. “They sent out misleading information that scared people. It probably still would have passed, but I do think they pushed it hard.”

The High School Building Committee is next scheduled to meet on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Caira said it’s extremely unlikely that the DEP will have its ruling on the appeal by then.

“It’s of great concern that the project was overwhelmingly supported, and now is being held up by 10 people,” said Caira. “It’s my hope that (the DEP) will act expeditiously. (Artificial turf)  is the way of the future, and we think we should be able to provide our student-athletes and thousands of others the same opportunity that other communities have.”

J.R. March 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Hi Josephine, I just replied to Christine with a couple of links to articles I read about the differences between artificial turf and natural grass fields. I hope the links are useful to you.
J.R. March 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Hi Josephine, I was at the special Town Meeting too. Yes, people wanted to vote and get it done, but it seemed to me that anyone who had a question was allowed to ask it and that Mr. Stewart did a very good job of maintaining decorum. The people in attendance were overwhelmingly (98%) in favor of the project. Most people I spoke with later said that they admired the people who spoke against the project for having the courage to voice an unpopular opinion in that kind of forum. The only negative comments I heard referred to Mr. McDonald's use of parliamentary tricks to delay the process, his calling the majority "a mob," and his repeated insinuation that the people in attendance were ignorant, ill-informed dupes.
J.R. March 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Josephine, The turf field was a part of the project well in advance of the Special Town Meeting. I was at several of the information sessions and I distinctly remember discussion of the turf field. In fact, I remember a gentleman standing to voice opposition to the field's price tag at one of those meetings.
Josephine MorningStar March 11, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Here is a thought!. moving the softball field to where it will rest between two wetlands (national register) and really CLOSE to the wetlands.. What about the increase amt of mosquitoes?? one can NOT spray into the wetlands to control the hatching mosquitoes.. Also on other side of the cemetery, is MAJOR YIELD Aquifer I have more maps if anyone is interested.
J.R. March 11, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Josephine, I am genuinely sorry to learn of your health problems. However, there were many opportunities to see the plans for the high school prior to the meeting. Those plans did, indeed, include a turf field. The plans were available online. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I remember that the turf field was part of the presentation at the Special Town Meeting. For some reason I remember it being discussed as the phases of construction were explained. I am also very concerned about the wetlands and I don't want to see anything put in place to harm the ecosystem. However, both the existing grass field and the turf field have risks. Unless the town is prepared to convert the existing grass field to an organically maintained field, I just don't see that the runoff from the turf field's crumbled rubber is going to do any more damage that the runoff from the chemicals used to maintain the existing field. Is the Stream Team willing to support the project if the Town demonstrates that adequate barriers will be created?
Daniel March 11, 2012 at 08:42 PM
"I would just like to remind people" "If I wanted to stop the high school" "I would have been out in force" "Just like I did with the library plan" "I think there was a better plan for the HS" "As I said in letters to the editor" What kind of an egomaniac talks like this? Who are you to so insult the intelligence of the town? And as far as Wilmington folks being ignorant or not knowing what they voted for, may I suggest the last time they were so blinded at the ballot box was when they voted for you for Selectman. And they fixed that mistake pretty quick.
Josephine MorningStar March 11, 2012 at 09:35 PM
so i have stopped argueing about the turf.. i still object to the switch of fields and the issues of the usage.. as i stated the lacrosse field would have had less use then a softball field.. more people with more activity into the buffer zone of the wetland.. that is against state and federal laws.. the law states LIMITED activity.. also what of the mosquitoes in the hot weather.. one is Not supposed to spray chemicals to stop their growth within the wetlands.. as the wetlands are HOME to many animals and nature.. so what of that exposure to the children that play on the fields?? as well as the parents / spectators that go there also.??? what of this J. R. ??
Always Right March 12, 2012 at 02:34 AM
It must be tuff going threw life being the smartest person in the world…. We can all only hope to be half as smart as suz sul.
Phil March 12, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Ok Ok, I’m back. First of all where do you get off saying “we all” did not know what we voted on? You have some nerve young lady. You have done nothing in this town but cause troubles every chance you get. If you don’t agree with an issue… it’s a conspiracy. If you don’t get your way…it was a back room deal. If the residents of are town don’t vote the way you like… we are all dumb. I’m pretty sure the town official’s town boards and town volunteers have all worked with the state and federal officials during this whole process. This process was so open and transparent I was starting to get sick of it. I did not make all the meetings, but I made my share and if I had a question…I asked it, and I got an answer. No one including you mr L has the right to complain about this project if you did not take part in the process. Most of you cry babies were not at any of the meetings, and the ones you were at you did not even ask a question. What were you thinking? Sue sul did you make one of the what seemed like thousands of meetings to express your grave concern for our wet lands…NO. You have the nerve to bash the town for building the current fields where they are at, when were they built? I don’t even think I was born then. If you are lucky…maybe you can cost the town more money and time than you did when you and your merry band of malcontents did all you could do to sabotage the MM landfill. Good night and good luck, Wilmington
Christine March 12, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Josephine, these are just a few of the hundreds of studies done by govt and other agencies saying it's AS safe or safer than maintaining grass fields... http://www.fieldturf.com/images/downloads/Scoping_Level_EPA_Study2.pdf http://www.fieldturf.com/images/downloads/CPSC_Guidance_on_Lead_7-30-08.pdfhttp://www.fieldturf.com/images/downloads/Latest_Attacks_Against_Artificial_Turf_2.pdf http://www.fieldturf.com/images/downloads/Artificial_Turf_Dangers_QA.pdf http://www.fieldturf.com/images/downloads/nysdec-report.pdf
Josephine MorningStar March 12, 2012 at 05:59 AM
here is a question to those that attended the smaller town meetings.. is the area that the people who meet for the meetings, is this 'wheelchair accessible'?? is there room for me to sit so that i can see those speaking? is there room for my medical alert service dog to lay at my feet? when i first moved here 12 yrs ago, i attended the meetings for the selectman, and tried to get into the conservation meetings, and the school board, and found that they all were not accessible. has this changed in the last 12 yrs?? Many may remember me sitting in the selectman meetings, with Heather laying in the aisle. as that was all the room there was for Both of us.. in the aisle. and no accessible parking..if i got there early enough TO park in the disabled parking.. if i had to leave early i could not get IN my car.. there is still NO access aisle for the disabled parking!! try to go to the restroom in the town hall, its impossible if you are in a wheelchair. so the bldg that is used for meetings is not that 'inviting' if one is disabled.
Josephine MorningStar March 12, 2012 at 06:19 AM
fieldturf.com is promoting the field use. so not an objective source. I looked for independent studies. and all the studies that have been done, were in interest to human safety. i do not find any that studied the impact of the leaching chemicals to a wetland environment.. why?? maybe no other fields were built next to wetlands?? or were out of the buffer zone area of the wetlands.. oops.. these fields will be built near wetlands.. which is my whole point. I guess our town may be the first place the epa can test down the road for the effects of the leaching of the deterioration of the tire crumb and the effect it had on the wetlands, and eventually the drinking water supply..
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I'm sorry Suz Sull, I have to agree with Daniel and Phil. I don't know you and I can only hope that you are acting with good intentions, but that last comment does come off as more than a little arrogant.
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Hi Josephine, the information sessions I attended prior to the Special Town Meeting were held in the High School Auditorium.
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Golly, Josephine, I have a child who will be playing on the turf field. I will be a spectator. I honestly don't know whether or not there will be an increase in the mosquito population because of the field. But would anyone really even notice? I moved to Wilmington from the city 16 years ago and I still can't get over the size of the existing mosquito population. There are so many of them that they could carry off a small dog if they worked together. Everyone I know in this town uses so much DEET that I think Wilmington may collectively be the primary reason OFF is a profitable company.
suz sull March 12, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Robert, I can not say what we will do. First I am only one person. Second I do not speculate. What is is and what will be will be. Hopefully the Town and the DEP will do the right thing both in the appeal and moving forward with the High School. If they do the right thing then there are no issues. We believe this project in all aspects can be developed in the proper way without impacts to the surrounding resource areas. No our meetings are not public, we are a citizen group, but if someone wishes to meet with us something could always be arranged.
suz sull March 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
As far as my comments on if I wanted to derail the High School there would be a special town meeting, is because there have been so many accusations about the motive of the appeal, false accusations. The appeal does not stop anything. Yes a delay could occur but it does not have to go that way either. It is ok for people to debate what is better turf or natural grass but really that horse has left the barn. This appeal is not about this. As far as people did not know what they were voting on, the wetland filing did not take place until after the TM votes. No one knew what the filing would be, how it would be tailored, what mitigation the town would do to off set the impacts to the Riverfront. That is normal, you would not go through the process with out approval at town meeting. It is not that people did not know about the field or whether the process was upfront. People just seem to want to twist words instead of maybe learning about this issue. This is a wetland filing and falls under different sets of rules. It is a different process. I will say once again it has NOTHING to do with the High School vote or the Turf Field. It has to do with requirements the applicant has to move forward their plans. If they do not meet standards abutters and/or citizens have the right to ask for the DEP to issue a different set of conditions. The applicant just needs to do the right thing and there are no issues.
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Hi Suz Sull, I understand that the Stream Team is a citizens' group, but it might make sense to hold an open meeting. The Farmers Market is a citizens' group too and, if I remember right, they had open meetings when they were getting started. Where your group's action could have an effect of delaying ground breaking on a very popular major municipal project, it might be a good idea for your group to be as transparent as possible -- just to avoid being accused of improper motives.
suz sull March 12, 2012 at 01:45 PM
We will consider it.
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Suz Sull, perhaps people are responding to the tone of your posts. Your post here is the most conciliatory one you've made. And, I am sorry, but based on other posts I have seen from you and based on the wording of the appeal (I read it), you do seem to have a bit of a confrontational edge to your writing. I also want to remind you that many of the people who were against the High School project have shouted that the people who voted for the new High School were at best misled and at worst stupid or under the influence of a "mob mentality." I seem to remember reading the conservative talk-radio inspired pseudo-word "sheeple" in reference to supporters of the project more than once during that debate. I think that if people (like me) who voted in favor of this project are a tad defensive, and somewhat skeptical about the Stream Team's motives, it should be understandable.
suz sull March 12, 2012 at 04:19 PM
J.R. I am responding to attacks which makes me feel not so conciliatory. If you read the article the town manager attacks us several times by making untrue erroneous comments which started the tone for commenters. For instance: “I think it’s disappointing that a few people can usurp the decision and determination of a large, large majority of the citizens in the town,” said Caira. “They want this project the way it has been proposed. To delay that is unfortunate and contrary to the stated intentions of the residents in town.” This is so false and inflammatory and it worked! Commenters on this site attacked based on this story. We are not usurping any decision by the residents, we are attempting to make the town follow the laws.The debate over the high school/ the field is long over, as it should be, but the TM attempts to turn this appeal into just that, this is about resource protection. The River has no voice other than us. If the TM cared even a little about the Ipswich River and its resources we would not even be having this discussion. Re: the tone of the letter, it is an appeal, which means you do not agree. Conciliatory means you are agreeable. There are a lot of haters in this town and the TM loves to lather them up. I have the right to defend my position. Maybe you could contact the TM and mention to him that he should be more conciliatory and to stop spreading disinformation after all he is the leadership.
Tom J March 12, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Hey suzy… you have had it in for the Town Manager for many years. Your hatred for him and this town shows in everyone of your post. You even mentioned him by name in your appeal as the Applicant; you could have put the town as the applicant but nooooo you had to mention Mr. Caira by name. Seriously … there are a lot of haters in this town and the TM loves to lather them up, you are the biggest hater in this town. You blame the TM for everything that YOU feel is wrong and all of us stupid residents don’t know what we vote on or agree with. Did you ever think for one moment that it is you, yourself that lather up the haters with all of your holier that thou remarks? Suzy if you ever thought of running for any office in this town, well let me just say that is not going to happen,,,ever. You have said in the past that a lot of people have asked you to run, that’s pretty funny. Please consider going back in the swamp and count endangered frogs and leave us humans alone. PLEASE
suz sull March 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Hey Tomy, The Town Manager is listed by name as the Applicant on the Notice Of Intent, not the Town of Wilmington. Helps if you have the facts.
Stacie March 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
If anyone is interested I found Susanne Sullivan's Stream Team photo page... http://www.pbase.com/suzsull/ipswich_river_headwaters&page=4
J.R. March 12, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Suz Sull, I understand that you are trying to convey that you disagree with the town's plan to build that turf field. I realize that's the stated reason for the appeal. All I was trying to say is that your tone, in much of your writing is hostile. I think you might be better able to get your point across with a different approach. You might also find that people are more willing to consider your side of an issue with a different tone. As for my word choice, conciliatory does not mean "in agreement." The dictionary definition of 'to conciliate' is: 1. to overcome the distrust or hostility of; placate; win over: to conciliate an angry competitor. 2. to win or gain (goodwill, regard, or favor). 3. to make compatible; reconcile. As for the Town Manager's response to the appeal: I don't know Mr. Caira, but he usually seems to keep a cool head from what I've seen at Town Meetings and at Board of Selectman meetings. Perhaps he was upset by what he might have interpreted as an accusation of some kind of corruption in the wording of the appeal. Nobody is perfect and he may have just been having a bad day.
Josephine MorningStar March 12, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all the Life which it supports. One Planet in our care, irreplaceable, with sustenance and respect for all.
Tom J March 12, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Hey suzy know it all…I said you did use the TM’s name but you did not have to. Once again your vision is clouded by your anger… smile once in awhile, you may actually enjoy life. Angry and jealous is no way to go through life. 
Tom J March 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I like this one better... I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.
Daniel March 12, 2012 at 10:22 PM
What a silly Moonbat
Josephine MorningStar March 12, 2012 at 10:35 PM
@ tom J; quote: indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all end quote: IF this is your pledge, then why not "liberty and justice for all" why single out people and attack them? why not deal with the subject matter and not the people.. that does not sound like a fullfilment of the pledge .. esp not to "liberty and justice for all" I also like the national anthem. and i think how blessed we are as a nation that has the right to speak out and have our own opinions.., but on this forum??? i see bullies.. and taking the discussion, to the extremes on one aspect, that is now a moot point. its more about the disturbance into the wetland protection zone.. and nothing more. remember im Native American, and I Honor the Earth and try to protect it with every breath, despite the arrows shot at me by those on this forum. Many do not seem to be able to discuss the matter, without resorting to name calling and disrespect. AHO!

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