Sutton Selectmen hear plan for Shaw Farm
New soccer, baseball fields, and new DPW station would be included
BY TOM REILLY
Design firm Gates Leighton made a presentation to the selectmen of the master plan for Shaw Farm, a 135 acre parcel located between Putnam Farm Road and the Central Turnpike. According to the report, the parcel is “less than half a mile from the school complex on Boston Road and is bordered by fields and forest to the north and residential homes along roadways to the south and west.” It is made up of “wooded forest and grassed fields” and the site is divided by a stream running through the center. There are wetlands and vernal pools throughout the site. The slope of the farm “varies with areas of relatively flat fields to steeper hills with the highest point of the site located in the southern corner.”
The presentation was conducted by landscape architect Ashley Iannuccilli and firm president Donald Leighton. Iannuccilli noted that the site has been divided into parcels that can easily be built on, those that could be built on with some effort and those that should be left alone. The track and soccer field requires a flat area outside of the wetlands and this was best suited for the northwest corner of the farm, which is also the part closest to the school. She hopes a sidewalk connection to the school could be part of the project. She also said the Little League field also needed to be sited on a flat area and it would need a connection to the parking area and the school as well. Walking trails and pathways would tie the site together. Reinforced turf could supplement the existing parking area for large
The proposed DPW facility could be established on six acres close to the Central Turnpike because there is excellent highway access here and few environmental restrictions. The existing vegetation and contouring provides a natural buffer from the rest of the site. It would include five parking bats and offices for the foreman and the DPW director. Solar panels are a possibility and a sand and salt storage shed would be built. The hope would be that the buildings could be aesthetically pleasing. The DPW facility would have its own vehicle entrance.
A proposed cell tower could be located at any number of points as long as it is outside of the wetlands or river setbacks. Iannuccilli said that after investigating moving the driveway entering the site, the firm now proposes to reconstruct it. There are plans to increase its width to 18 feet, wide enough for two cars going in either direction at the same time. She said that there are also great locations for community gardening.
Leighton said the existing barn has no current use but one could be developed, considering where the barn is situated. He suggested it could be a storage area for a community farming program.
Iannuccilli said the first phase could include the site prep and the reconstruction of the entrance and parking. It would also include sidewalk construction and demolition of some of the buildings. Phase 1B could be the soccer field, the track, and the DPW facility. Next would come the cell tower while Phase 3 would be for the baseball field. Phase 4 would address the barn.
The report also included preliminary cost estimates which Iannuccilli said came from similar projects. For example, Phase 1 could cost as much as $1.9 million but it would include the parking lot and the entrance road, the track and soccer field, the DPW facility and a variety of other work. The baseball field has an estimate of $286,000 and the cell tower has none as it would not be part of the work Gates Leighton is planning. Some sort of rest room facilities would also be highly desirable. She noted that the town would have great flexibility in deciding what it wanted to build and how.
Leighton pointed out that these were only preliminary cost estimates. Iannuccilli suggested that all of this be worked out before the design phase was ended.
Mike Chizy said he was impressed with the plan and thought that it was a great presentation. John Hebert said Gates Leighton had done other quality work in town and, that while some of the items were expensive, it made sense to go forward a step at a time.
Rick Hersom said he had concerns about the location of the entrance to Central Turnpike from the DPW facility, that this came at the beginning of a very steep portion of the road that could create traffic issues when pieces of heavy equipment tried to make it up the hill.
Ken Stuart said he thought the Shaw Farm purchase was one of the best things that the town had done. He thought that the plan showed a tremendous balance in what the citizens of Sutton wanted. He also applauded the replacement of some of the athletic facilities being lost by the school reconstruction. He asked Jim Smith if there was any chance of getting any grants for any of the work and Smith said he thought that it might be possible to get a grant to construct the sidewalk link to the schools. He noted that the town had already received a $45,000 grant for trail construction.
Stuart wondered if it might be possible to put in a second baseball field. He also wondered what a sidewalk would do to abutters’ property and also had a concern about how students would cross Central Turnpike to get to the farm.
Kevin Geraghty called it an “enlightening presentation” and he thought many people were interested in what would result from the plan. Geraghty wondered why a Little League-sized field was being built rather than a larger one and Smith said he believed that there was a need for that kind of facility. He noted that a full-sized baseball field was being built at the school, though he did note that the Shaw Farm field could be lengthened if the land was there.
Geraghty also expressed a desire to get the DPW facility done as soon as possible, not just because of the deficiencies of the existing location but also because the current site off of Route 146 was deemed to have commercial value. He also asked Smith why the soccer field was made of artificial turf and Smith said that he believed that durability was the main issue.