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Report suggests $2.8M in upgrades for Freeport athletic fields

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Report suggests $2.8M in upgrades for Freeport athletic fields

FREEPORT — The Town Council Tuesday night received an evaluation that suggests spending nearly $3 million to upgrade athletic facilities throughout town.

Councilors sent the recommendation to a new Recreational Field Use Committee, which will analyze the town's needs.

The committee, made up of representatives from the town, schools, Recreation Department, Field Committee, high school, Little League and soccer teams, will decide if partnering with Seacoast United Maine will benefit the community, or if the town will retain the Pownal Road fields and make necessary adjustments on its own.

Seacoast United Maine is a nonprofit organization that offers year round, all-age, club soccer. Town Manager Dale Olmstead said Mike Healey, president of the organization, has shown interest in partnering with the town and using Pownal Road field for its club sports.

The Recreational Field Use committee will have to discuss the financial impact of current and future field use, and explore how the potential sale of the Pownal Road field will affect the needs of students and community members. Olmstead encouraged councilors to reach a decision by their Dec. 1 meeting, because Seacoast United Maine has other offers to pursue.

The field presentation by Andrew Manning calculated that according to the number of teams using the fields – high school and middle school sports, Little League, Gridiron Football and Freeport United soccer – and the hours needed for them to practice and play games, four more fields are necessary in spring and fall.

Manning said field space would be better managed if some of the fields were expanded to a standard size and other fields were placed inside existing fields. He said a field hockey field, for example, could fit in the outfield of a larger baseball field.

The price tag for the improvements, Manning said, is about $2.8 million, with $700,000 to upgrade the high school fields, $375,000 to upgrade the Middle School property, and $1.7 million to upgrade the Pownal Road property. Changes to the high school would include fencing, drainage and irrigation upgrades and baseball diamond expansion. At the Middle School the baseball diamond would be relocated. The Pownal Road property would include a new field house, draining upgrades, lighting upgrades and a rubberized eight-lane track.

The upgrades would not include artificial turf, bleachers, or grandstands.

The first meeting of the Recreational Field Use Committee will be scheduled within a week, and representatives from Durham and Pownal will be invited to join the committee.

In other business, the council appointed a Comprehensive Peddler Review Committee to examine vending in Freeport and the town's Peddlers Ordinance. The committee is made up of property owners George Denney and Jay Yilmaz, L.L. Bean representative John Oliver, Al Yebba of Berenson Associates, Victoria Powers of the Teen Center, vendors, town councilors, and Historical Society and Planning Board representatives. The non-voting members include Myra Hopkins of Freeport Merchant Association, Sande Updegraph of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., and Olmstead.

The group will develop a vending vision for up to 15 years, consider pedestrian and traffic safety, food handling requirements, and permanent locations for peddler carts and vending.

Councilors also scheduled a workshop Tuesday, Sept. 22, on tax increment financing. The workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net