EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - All the rain this Spring has created headaches for some local DPW crews, who are trying to get athletic fields in shape for Spring sports.
In fact, field conditions are a big item on the agenda during tonight's town council meeting, which is slated to begin soon in East Longmeadow.
There is concern that many of the athletic fields in East Longmeadow are not only unplayable, but unsafe, however.
The town recreation director, who spoke exclusively with Western Mass News, says they are very aware of the problems, and are working hard with the resources they have to fix them.
Part of Veterans Field, which is located at the center of town in East Longmeadow, is under water and the sod has been torn up, due in part to the various vehicles that have roamed across it.
"We are aware of the problems," Donna Prather, Director of Recreation for the town of East Longmeadow, tells us. "We've been over several different options on how to correct them."
Prather tells Western Mass News understandably this, and several other fields, is also the source of complaints by parents, players, and coaches.
"The rec department is," continued Prather. "Working with the DPW, and we have sod that we're ready to put down. The sod company is telling us that they can't get on the fields yet to cut the sod, because it's too wet. When you look at the car tracks, yes, it's terrible, but there's a plan in place, and we're waiting for the right opportunity with the weather to get that in. The mound is a work in progress. This is not how it's going to look."
DPW Director Bruce Feeney tells us they are just under 170 acres the town is responsible for, including thirty-eight athletic fields.
Those field include soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, t-ball, baseball, softball, and football.
Prather says a newly-formed field committee, with representatives from the rec department, the DPW, parents, coaches, and the town council, is working on solutions.
"We really do have a plan," stated Prather. "We want to be positive. We don't want to come in here and have people be unhappy with our product. I got into recreation to have fun. I realize that, in order to do that, we have to have a quality product, and that's what we're working towards."
What it comes down to, she says, is resources, money, and staff.
"By all means," says Prather. "We are not properly funded for the fields that our residents expect."
She says the field committee is looking into what many other surrounding towns have utilized for years, including private funding in the form of a foundation, sponsorships, and adopt-a-field programs.
Prather says she wants residents to know they understand their frustrations.
"I'd like to reassure them that," adds Prather. "The Rec Department and DPW is working together. We're looking at different funding and different materials."
That town council meeting is scheduled to begin 5:00 p.m.
The agenda says field conditions are the third item.