A New Athletic Complex Excites Walpole Athletes

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(Photo/ Walpolema.gov)

(Photo/ Walpolema.gov)

Cate Stanton, Staff Writer

Walpole Town Meeting members had been creating plans for new fields since 2007 but struggled to get their ideas passed by the town until recently. The need for new fields was necessary because the town of Walpole has more than 2,500 people using the current fields, which are “overcrowded and overstressed,” according to the Fall 2019 Town Meeting article. With only one turf field in the town (at Walpole High School), sports games and practices are often cancelled in the rain because they do not want to ruin the grass fields. Town meeting members put forth a few different proposals on where the town could build new fields as the number of athletes in Walpole continues to grow.

(Photo/ Walpolema.gov)

Town Meeting members argued that Walpole had been planning to build new fields for 11 years but had made minimal progress. In 2007, the town voted to conduct a comprehensive Field Master Plan and began looking for venues where these fields could be built. In 2013, the town set aside funds to buy 63.72 acres of land from the state and officially took ownership of the property in 2015. In the spring of 2019, there was a proposal for a new sports complex on the new property off Route 1A with two synthetic turf fields, a few grass fields, outdoor lighting, a playground, a paved driveway, basketball courts, restrooms and walking paths. However, it cost $10 million dollars and failed to get two thirds of the vote with 89 in favor and 48 opposed. In the fall of 2019, there was another proposal for the same fields, but a more scaled-back version that only cost $7.2 million dollars, which omitted the playground, paved driveway, basketball courts, restrooms and walking paths. This new proposal was passed and with the smaller athletic complex, the town would only have to borrow $5 million instead of $7 million to build it.

(Photo/ Cate Stanton)

Besides money, another issue that came up with the proposal for the new fields was the location. Across Main Street is a maximum security incarceration center: MCI-Cedar Junction. Town meeting members worried about the possibility of a prison riot or escaped prisoners who could pose a danger to the kids at the nearby fields. They were reassured by the Walpole Police and Fire Departments that they could have officers down at the fields in a matter of minutes, as well as calling in help from the Norfolk Police Department if needed. Also, since MCI-Cedar Junction is a maximum security prison, the chances of an escaped prisoner are slim to none.

The South Walpole Community Athletic Complex has two turf fields that are done right now and baseball, softball and soccer fields that are being built. Youth lacrosse and soccer teams have already been practicing on these new fields, as well as private clubs that have been reserving the fields as well. Having an athletic complex as large as this one allows Walpole to host tournaments and other large-scale athletic events, that they were not able to do before. These new fields will also help manage the different practices and games of the 2,500 athletes in Walpole: consisting of 750 high school athletes, 910 youth athletes and 1,110 recreation registrants.