T.U.R.F meets to discuss ORR restoration

Jul 16, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — After a $2 million restoration project at the Old Rochester Regional High school to improve safety conditions on athletic facilities, and auditorium equipment was voted against in a special election in Rochester, supporters of the project, and interested community members gathered at the school’s library on Tuesday, July 16 to discuss the logistical challenges faced in the approval process, and potential plans for the future.

The meeting began with Tom Flynn, President of Tri-town Unified Recreational Facilities (T.U.R.F.) reiterating that his organization, and those in support of the restorations are united by wanting to do something great for kids, and for the community.

Currently conditions in athletic facilities, and the auditorium at the high school have caused concern for the safety and well-being of students who use them. The main athletic field is in poor condition, which puts athletes at risk of injuries like rolled ankles and torn ACLs, the outer layer of the track has started to crack, and auditorium lights turn on and off at random and often reach dangerously hot temperatures, putting students at risk for burns.

Some in attendance compared the restoration to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. The project was approved in Mattapoisett and Marion elections prior to being shot down in Rochester, and between the three towns the “popular vote” sided with the supporters with about 2,100 “yes” votes to 1,500 “no” votes in the three elections combined.

The restoration project would have raised taxes over the proposition 2-1/2 limit, which restricts tax rates increases to 2.5 percent, for fifteen years, until money borrowed for the project was repaid. Approval for the project required a seven step process depending on the school committee, and town meetings and elections in Mattapoisett, Marion, and Rochester. After making it through six steps of the approval process, and being denied in the final stage, some in attendance recommended finding another way to gain approval for the project.

Others at the meeting suggested separating the athletic restorations and auditorium equipment into separate projects that would be easier to manage. One community member recommended looking into how other town’s overcame similar issues in the past.

Flynn, as well as T.U.R.F clerk Shaun Walsh, and school committee member Tina Rood answered  questions for the crowd at the meeting about expenses, and the conditions at the school. After having the chance to clarify logistical information and challenges for those in attendance, T.U.R.F members and supporters now aim to met again in the near future to establish more concrete plans for the future, and reach out to the community at large.