SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 5, 2013

Bertram Field one step closer to getting synthetic turf

SALEM — A project to renovate the track and install synthetic turf at Bertram Field cleared its last municipal hurdle last night and can now go out to bid.

The School Committee voted 4-3 last night to reaffirm the property’s designation as city park land. The city purchased Bertram Field, Salem High School’s main football field, for the purposes of a public park in 1906.

The city was awarded a $400,000 state grant for the renovation project this winter through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities, or PARC, program. To utilize the grant funds — an estimated one-third of the project’s costs — Bertram Field needs to be under city control.

City councilors also voted to designate Bertram Field as park land at the board’s last meeting.

The council and school board’s votes allow the city to begin accepting bids toward the project. Ultimately, City Council approval will be needed to fund the project before construction can begin.

The project is estimated to cost more than $1 million, $400,000 of which would be covered by the PARC grant.

Charlie O’Donnell was one of several residents who urged the School Committee to vote in the affirmative last night, saying the renovation project is sorely needed.

“I hate to see us miss the opportunity to take advantage of doing it, and doing it right,” O’Donnell said.

Proposed designs would install a 82,000 square foot synthetic turf field, resurface the track and create a new area for high jump, long and triple jump, shot put and discus throwing.

Last night, School Committee members Janet Crane, James Fleming and Brendan Walsh voted against reaffirming the property as park land. The trio said they were supportive of the renovations, but against ceding control of the property.

“We’re taking an irreversible action,” Crane said. “I want to see the facilities improved ... (but) I do not believe this is the way to do it.”

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