A hearing was held last month on legislation that would enable Simmons College to partner with the Department of Conservation of Recreation to rehabilitate the existing Daly field complex in Brighton. Click here for the hearing press release and here for Simmons’ vision for the complex.
After the hearing, the legislation received a favorable report from the State Administration Committee. It is currently pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. If favorably reported and passed, the legislation will authorize (but not require) DCR to enter into a lease agreement allowing the rehabilitation of the fields. The legislation does not bypass any permitting process that may be required under state or local law for the site — it merely enables those processes to start.
The Daly field complex lies along the Charles in Brighton at the Newton line between the Daly rink and the Community Rowing facility. Click here to see the location on Google Maps.
There is no actual design for the rehabilitated complex. The feasibility study that Simmons has completed serves to determine the capacity of the site and leaves many questions unanswered.
Here are a few important points about the plans and the legislation as they currently stand:
- The site in question is already an athletic complex, including a football field, a baseball field, a fieldhouse and a surrounding fence which is normally left open.
- The complex is in poor condition and is currently underutilized.
- After rehabilitation, under the terms of the bill, the site would continue to remain open and accessible — no closed gates.
- The river pathway behind the site will be improved and extended subject to leases held on neighboring properties.
- After rehabilitation, the most notable changes to the complex would be:
- tennis courts will be added — because of the need to avoid encroaching on neighboring parking, the number may be fewer than the six desired;
- the main fields will be synthetic turf fields;
- the complex will be surrounded by a walking/running track.
- The feasibility study conducted by Simmons indicates that there is just enough room on the site for these uses (without encroaching on neighboring parking) — to the extent possible, they are also hoping to add some bleachers along the fields.
- The state parks department (Department of Conservation and Recreation) will continue to control access to the site for recreational use.
- DCR will give first dibs to identified users during certain times, but these users will not be able to completely use the fields in these times. The general public will continue to have access to the fields, even during these times, if not in use by the identified users.
- Simmons will have first dibs during weekday evenings in the Spring and Fall
- Brighton High School Football will have first dibs during weekday afternoons and on Friday nights in the Fall
- Allston-Brighton Little League has first dibs during early evenings from May to July
- At all other times, the field will remain as accessible to the public as it is today.
The biggest change for most people will be that the fields will be in good shape. My personal expectation is that use of the fields by the general public will increase substantially as a result of this partnership.
What are your thoughts about the opposition to this proposal by the Charles River Conservancy and nine other prominent conservation / environmental organizations?
These are all organizations that I think very highly of and work with on many other issues. I look forward to continuing to work with them.
In this case, I feel that they are misperceiving the nature of this project. The letter refers to it as “high intensity development proposed by a private institution for this parkland”. This project continues the existing use of the parkland — essentially it rehabilitates an existing athletic complex.
It may be more intense in the respect that people will spend more time there. I believe that it will be more popular destination for the general public than it is now. Simmons is a small school and their own use footprint will be much lighter than the footprint of other possible partners — use by other parties and the general public is likely to go up, not down.
I am late to the process myself, but my understanding is that the letter also misperceives the history of the project. This was driven by the Allston-Brighton community who sought a partner to get the rehabilitation done. It would be better if the state had the resources to do this rehabilitation without a private partner, but it doesn’t.
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