Freeport field committee 'cautiously optimistic' about Pownal Road field agreement
FREEPORT — If the Town Council approves, Seacoast United soccer club could begin a feasibility study on the back portion of the Pownal Road athletic field.
The Field Use Committee made the recommendation to the council last week, and will support an engineering study to determine if the undeveloped land behind the Pownal Road field is suitable for construction of a turf field, athletic facility and additional parking.
According to Councilor Rich DeGrandpre, a member of the Field Use Committee, the council will take action on the agreement at its Dec. 15 meeting.
"If the study shows it is a viable option to move forward, we will make sure it is a good deal for everyone involved," he said. "As of now, the committee is cautiously optimistic about working with the Seacoast club."
Matt Wogan, president of the Freeport Gridiron Club and a member of the Field Use Committee, said discussions with the soccer club are still in the exploratory stage. He said there is no purchase and sale agreement, no obligation for the town to sell the land and no obligation for Seacoast to purchase it at this time.
"There is a great deal of neutrality among all the athletic groups," Wogan said. "If it is possible to negotiate satisfactory terms among all of us, then there will be support. But as of now, the committee is neutral."
Wogan said terms that would satisfy the field committee would include retaining town ownership of existing fields on the front portion of the land while Seacoast builds a new turf complex on the back portion. He said the committee supports creation of a new regulation Little League field to be owned by the town and used by other athletic groups for additional practice space outside of baseball season. It would also like improved parking for the entire complex and use of the turf complex for specific athletic events.
"We are not trying to sell town land so we can buy field time back from Seacoast," he said. "The field committee will not be satisfied with a field-neutral situation."
The Field Use Committee is made up of representatives from the Town Council, Regional School Unit 5, sports teams and the School Department athletic director. The goal of the committee is to determine Freeport's field space needs and to determine if a partnership with the soccer club would be beneficial to the town, the schools, and the community.
"The plan is to keep the committee moving forward even after decisions are made regarding Pownal Field," Wogan said. "We can hopefully influence enhancements to the existing fields owned by the RSU at the high school and middle school."
Both Wogan and DeGrandpre emphasised the importance of public input throughout the process.
"It is critical for the public to stay involved," Wogan said. "I am impressed with how much people know about the field need in town, but we have to keep the town, the school and the field clubs engaged in this process."
DeGrandpre said he encourages residents to ask questions and attend meetings.
The next Field Use Committee meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, at Town Hall. The Town Council will meet Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. in council chambers.