A section of needed to be closed off temporarily. Part of the field began to sink, making it unsafe for athletic teams to play on.
And according to the Director of the , Chris Nelson, it’s a problem the town can’t afford to fix. With the struggling economy, playing fields are not high on a town’s to-do list.
“The  found a solution to that problem [at Mullen Field], but to find the cause of it and fix that costs more money than we have,” said Nelson.
The lack of funds is something the Field Management Committee
“We’re going to raise fees to supplement the maintenance costs,” Nelson said.
He told the Board of Selectmen the committee would like to create two revolving accounts with those funds, in order to pay for upkeep, and, in the case of Manchester Field, a new artificial turf, when the time comes.
“Eventually the turf at will need to be replaced, and these field fees would give us the ability to have some money to help replace the turf,” Nelson said. “We’d also be able to put a drainage system at and not lose four days when it rains.”
Currently, no town youth organization is charged a fee to use a non-lighted field. Those organizations make donations, but under the proposed changes, every organization (except high school teams) will be required to pay a participation fee. Out-of-town organizations will be required to pay a higher fee, however a number is yet to be determined.
The current fees are:Field Time Frame Fee Non-Lighted Four hours or less $15/day Non-Lighted Over four hours $25/day Lighted Four hours or less $40/day Lighted Over four hours $70/day
The Field Management Committee would like to bring it more in line with neighboring communities and introduce a participation fee for youth organizations. These estimates do not include the lights or the turf field.New Field Fee/Grass Participants Amount/Season SYBS 1,000 $10/one season Winchester Youth Soccer 1,500 $10/two season Winchester Boys Lacrosse 200 $10/one season Winchester Girls Lacrosse 70 $10/one season Youth Football Pop Warner 130 $10/one season Sachem Football Club 30 $15/two season Middlesex Falcons 100 $15/two season Winchester Adult Soccer 30 $15/two season Tournaments 12 Fields $125/field
“I feel as though this is a step in the right direction,” said Selectman Jim Johnson. “Capital does not have the funds to address these issues and this is a way of addressing it.”
Nelson said that the committee plans on holding public comment on the new fees. However, Paul Manganaro of Sachem Youth Football and Charlie Stackhouse of the Sachem Soccer Club both supported the fee increases.
“I understand the difficulty in maintaining the fields at a high level without funding,” said Stackhouse, . “Personally I’m OK with a fee for usage. My only question is: What do we get in return? We’re the largest organization, so I want to make sure we get a fair amount of field space.”
The committee is still working on finalizing the fee amounts, but it’s something they hope to institute in the near future.
“If we don’t maintain the fields, in the end, we’re going to end up in the same spot we were a few years ago,” Manganaro said. “This is a way to ensure quality fields for the years to come, and it’s a small price to pay.”