T.U.R.F. prioritizing upgrades for ORR fields to reduce initial costs

Jun 25, 2018

The organization working to raise funds to overhaul Old Rochester Regional High School's athletic fields is considering extending its timeline and completing high-priority upgrades first to reduce upfront costs.

T.U.R.F. (Tri-Town Unified Recreational Facilities, Inc.), a nonprofit formed by tri-town residents in 2015, initially planned a $5 million project that would include two synthetic turf fields, a new track, two new natural grass fields, an athletic building with a concession stand, storage and bathrooms.

Last year, T.U.R.F. asked Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester officials for $1.67 million per town to cover expenses. Representatives noted the cost per town could be reduced through the organization's fundraising efforts, as well as projected revenue generated through payments from youth and amateur leagues whose leaders had expressed interest in using the fields.

But some officials experienced sticker shock, so school representatives and T.U.R.F. members began exploring options.

“I think what we’ve really been focusing on is, ‘how do we do the project in a logical way?’” said T.U.R.F. Board President Tom Flynn.

Members of T.U.R.F. have been working with an engineering firm to determine which upgrades are the highest priority -- and how much it will cost to complete those upgrades first.

Among a string of projects determined by T.U.R.F. to be needed over the next 20 years, the track and fields deserve immediate attention, Flynn said. The current track is expected to provide only one more year of use before carrying significant safety risks.

Updates to lighting are also needed.

“Quite honestly, just all that stuff has passed its useful life,” said Flynn.

The cost for such upgrades is currently estimated at $2.6 million total, but Flynn said he expects to be able to present a firm cost to the three towns in the coming months.

Citing the need for some artificial turf, the nonprofit determined that ORR’s field receives 900 hours of use per year. Grass fields tend to need repairs after 600 hours.

The athletic building with a concession stand and permanent bathrooms (ORR currently uses port-o-potties) will likely not be part of the first set up upgrades. However, T.U.R.F. still intends to boost up coffers to get more work done.

“There’s not anything in the $5.6 [million] we don’t think our community would benefit from,” noted ORR Principal Michael Devoll. “I just think it’s a matter of what can be done immediately.”

T.U.R.F. representatives are planning presentations about the project after more is known about the costs. Some officials appear to be relieved.

“I’m glad to hear that they’re listening,” Rochester Board of Selectmen Chair Woody Hartley noted of T.U.R.F.’s changed project trajectory during a recent meeting.