Medway lacrosse program rallies for more field usage
MEDWAY – Dozens of sports supporters made their case during a Parks Commissioners meeting Tuesday night for why Medway Youth Lacrosse should be allotted more time on turf fields this spring, citing a need to prioritize local organizations over out-of-town, private teams.
But the Parks Commissioners, who voted Tuesday for the program to use both turf and grass fields, say the reason between splitting field time comes down to their responsibility to generate enough revenue from field rentals to replace the artificial turf surface in a decade.
“We’re just trying to accommodate lacrosse and other organizations,” commission Chairman Ross Rackliff said at the meeting.
According to an email signed by board members from Medway Youth Lacrosse sent to parents this week, program officials were notified in late November that they could only use one turf field at Medway High School, breaking from its usage of two artificial turf fields.
The organization is made up of about 200 boys and girls across 14 teams, according to the email.
In a separate email to Daily News reporters Sunday, the board wrote that the program requires two, turf fields “based on the number of youth players and the quality/offering of instruction.”
Under the Parks Commissioners’ proposed scheduling - which was approved in a 3-0 vote Tuesday - the league has one turf field Monday through Friday, another just on Fridays and the grass Charland Field Monday through Friday.
Scorpions Soccer Club, a private out-of-town league, is set to use the other artificial turf field Monday through Thursday, according to officials.
The Medway lacrosse league pays $30 per hour for the facilities, according to league president Ernie Buonaccorsi. Sean Murphy, a member of the Parks Commissioners, said private clubs – such as the Scorpions - pay between $180 and $200 an hour.
While league representatives said Tuesday night that grass fields present possibilities for rain-outs and other issues, Buonaccorsi said program officials are concerned that private clubs are being valued over the local residents who paid for the facilities for use by Medway children.
Town Meeting voters approved the construction of two new turf fields in 2014 for $4.2 million due to how often older fields were utilized by local sports.
“When we built these fields we thought this was for the kids,” Buonaccorsi said in an interview, adding he is concerned that the board’s decision to not let the league use the field more could set a precedent. “We want them to play on the best possible surface they can.”
But parks officials said money generated from renting the fields to out of town groups helps the town reach a $150,000 goal each year for money to put toward replacing the turf in 10 to 12 years.
Between the fall and spring seasons, Scorpions Soccer Club pays approximately $82,000 to use the fields, according to officials, who said they have lost renting to other private clubs as more leagues build their own fields.
“There’s an opportunity for the town fields to sort of self-fund and not be reliant by trying to get funds from the taxpayers,” said Park Commission member Paul Mahoney.
A majority of residents who spoke during Tuesday night’s meeting spoke in favor of the lacrosse league, many asking if town officials could negotiate with the soccer club.
Buonaccorsi said the league would be willing to give up two days a week to the club if it meant the lacrosse league could use the second turf field as well, but officials said the soccer club may decide to seek athletic space elsewhere if they did not meet their request for turf.
Christopher Gavin can be reached at 508 634-7582 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @c_gavinMDN