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January 23, 2014

Danvers High playing fields final stage in project

DANVERS — A new 2,600-seat athletic stadium with a synthetic turf field set close to Danvers High School is part of a $6.5 million plan to redo the school’s athletic fields.

Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to move ahead with the plan, which would rotate the site of the stadium along a north-south alignment and move it closer to the high school.

“It really makes the stadium part of the high school complex in a more intimate way,” said Mike Powers, a former selectman and Danvers High teacher who previously chaired the Danvers High School Facilities Committee, which recommended the project.

The new athletic complex would include a 240-foot-wide, 400-foot-long synthetic turf field suitable for all sports; accessible bleachers and press box; adjacent restrooms; energy-efficient lighting and scoreboard; covered storage and a concession stand.

Powers said field work has always been part of plans to upgrade the high school complex, but it was held off while first Holten Richmond Middle School and then Danvers High were renovated.

The current Dr. Charles F. Deering Stadium dates back to the early 1960s and is tucked behind the school’s field house, separated from the high school by more than the width of a soccer field. It can be hard to get to for those who have trouble walking.

Under the plan, the new stadium’s goalposts will be in line with the bus turnaround at the school’s front entrance. Bleachers will be built opposite the school side of the stadium, and the stadium will meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Selectman Diane Langlais, also a Facilities Committee member, said the group considered four options, including leaving the stadium where it is, before deciding on a preferred plan.

Langlais said the proposal moves the stadium for a number of reasons. The running track needs to be widened, which would have pushed the bleachers back under the stadium’s current alignment, encroaching on the left field of a baseball diamond.

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