Private land could help address athletic field shortage in Freeport

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FREEPORT — A school and community collaboration hopes to provide ample fields for youth, school and adult recreation and sporting groups.

The 16-member Athletic and Recreational Advisory Committee has been working to develop a plan to create new fields at the middle and high school. At the same time, a group of four or five business owners started to look into developing a 37-acre parcel off Hunter Road to alleviate crowding on the school fields.

David Latulippe of the Hunter Road group known as Freeport Fields and Trails said the land is owned by a family in Vermont, but could be purchased and developed by this summer. He said the additional fields would answer a community need and help alleviate overcrowding and overuse at the Freeport High School and middle school fields. 

“The land on Hunter Road is 37 acres and abuts 260 acres of town-owned land next to Hedgehog Mountain, the Pownal Road fields and the Seacoast United soccer fields,” Latulippe said. “We are looking to complement, not compete with the school group. We want to provide a service for the community.”

The Hunter Road project would provide four new athletic fields for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse or rugby; three new fields for Little League baseball and softball; about 12 miles of hiking, biking and Nordic trails; a sledding hill, and a recreational lodge, he said.

“The school group has been working to find a better way to use school property and this project is more community oriented,” Latulippe said. “If we collaborate, we can find a way to benefit all field needs.”

The Athletic and Recreational Advisory Committee presented its field improvement plan to the Regional School Unit 5 board of directors on Jan. 26 meeting.

Craig Sickels, RSU 5 athletic administrator and a member of the advisory committee, said the committee spent about four months reviewing the fields report by consultants Milone & MacBroom, and the current athletic and recreational facilities in Freeport, Pownal and Durham. He said the group considered the impact of the Seacoast United development on Pownal Road and looked at other facilities in the area.

The committee’s plan is to create an athletic complex at Freeport High School with an artificial turf field, track, lights, press box, bathrooms and concession stand. The existing fields need modifications and improvements to irrigation, drainage and fencing. The plan is to move the softball field and expand the baseball field. 

At the Middle School, the baseball field would be moved to create space for a new full-sized playing field. There would also be upgrades to irrigation, drainage and fences for more efficient use of the space. 

“The addition of fields on Hunter Road would help with the wear and tear of fields on school property,” Sickels said. “The youth and recreational clubs could use those and the school fields could be used for practice and games.”

Sickels said some games have to be canceled because of the lack of field space.

“Sometimes we just don’t have anywhere to play,” he said. “If we create a single vision, we can satisfy the needs of all the stakeholders and benefit the kids and everyone involved.”

The Freeport Fields and Trails group will host a public information meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Community Center at 53 Depot Road.

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

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