Good news for local soccer fans. Senator Joyce has modified the project scope at Houghton’s Pond to renovate the soccer fields as well as the soft ball fields.
By Kathy Kurtz Ferrari, Milton Times Staff Writer
While construction and improvements of the fields and facilities around Houghton’s Pond have been under way for several months now, the project has just been given a power boost.
According to Sen. Brian Joyce, the project, which originally sought to improve a baseball field at the Department of Conservation and Recreation property in the Blue Hills Reservation, has been given approval to expand the $1 million project to enhance all fields to benefit a much larger segment of the population.
“I’ve been working on this for over 15 years, going back to my days as a Milton park commissioner,” said Joyce.
On May 14, the senator announced that in order to enhance the sports facility, the project would be expanded to add irrigation lines and other improvements to all the playing fields, including the soccer and lacrosse fields. Before the Houghton’s Pond project began, there were two softball fields, one baseball field and a rarely used tennis court. Soccer and lacrosse were played on a vast area of remaining wide-open but poorly irrigated space.
The expansion of the project to include the remaining fields came as a result of concerns raised by soccer parents about the poor field conditions. According to Joyce, the thought was to take advantage of construction timing now, as there may not be a second chance to access the facility for improvements later.
He said the fields have been important to the town, as sports leagues have expanded. “It certainly makes sense to do it all now,” said Joyce, adding that all three ball fields will be renovated for use by Milton’s softball and baseball players, with the baseball field likely becoming the town’s premier field. “Milton will have much of the benefit, and none of the burden,” he said, as the DCR will continue to run and maintain the fields. “We are so thankful that the almost 800 children enrolled in Milton Travel Soccer will be playing on safe, well-groomed fields,” said Margaret Carels, Milton Travel Soccer League secretary and a parent of two young soccer players. “We asked Brian for help and he delivered.” According to Wendy Fox, DCR spokeswoman, the originally funded project will replace the existing baseball field with an adjustable ball field suitable for Little League and adult leagues. The tennis court was demolished as part of the construction.
“The field will accommodate both kids and adults,” Fox said. “The bases will be removable, with a process that allows bases to be snapped into place. There will be two pitcher’s mounds, with home plate staying the same.” Fox added that the pitcher’s mounds would be designed so they would not interfere with play, although she was not sure how that would be done. The adjustable field will accommodate regulation Little League as well as adult softball leagues, with base paths adjusting from 60 to 70 feet. The distance between home plate and the pitcher’s mound will be adjustable from 46 to 50 feet. The infield will be grass, and a new backstop, players’ benches, bullpens and spectator seating will be added. The field will not adjust to accommodate Pony League dimensions, which was rumored. That would have required a larger diamond, with longer base paths.
The funds for the project come from the Blue Hills Reservation Trust Fund, which Joyce established several years ago to help renovate the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Funds for the trust are generated from payments for communications dishes on towers in the Blue Hills. “Any money created in the Blue Hills goes into that fund,” Joyce said. As an example, Joyce said WGBH has a signal tower there, and its call letters stand for Great Blue Hill. Other improvements in the plan will include parking and traffic flow, drainage, a new water line, electric service, and new plantings. The DCR will be in charge of field bookings for various league use. The fields will be closed entirely this year during construction, which is slated to be finished by July 2011.