Select Board Endorses Master Plan for Wolf Swamp Fields

LONGMEADOW, MA – The Wolf Swamp Road athletic fields could be in line for some improvements after the select board voted 5-0 at its Nov. 19 meeting to endorse a master plan that would address parking and field conditions in four phases.

During the meeting, it was noted that events have been cancelled due to the poor field conditions, and at least one person has been injured.

The improvements would cost taxpayers around $1 million and could be financed through a debt exclusion. At the Nov. 19 meeting, it was noted there would likely be a warrant article for the debt exclusion to be voted on during the annual Town Meeting in June 2019.

While funds are needed to complete the additional phases of the master plan, about $330,000 has already been spent. A well for an irrigation system was funded from an $80,000 appropriation to a citizens group from Community Preservation Act funds, and DPW Director Mario Mazza said another $250,000 in total was approved for parking improvements, traffic safety, field leveling, and irrigation installation.

The master plan was created with advice from the DPW, parks and recreation, Town Manager Stephen Crane, and design professionals, and it was narrowed down from three concepts to best develop the Wolf Swamp fields over time.

“We settled on the one that you’ll see in the master plan…which essentially modifies the front parking lot, eliminates the gravel area to the east end of the fields, and replaces that with a more centralized traditional parking field that’s just south of the concession building,” said design professional Ben Wheeler. “In this concept there are approximately 260 parking spaces.”

Wheeler said the first phase would address parking and delineate curbing along the Wolf Swamp Road area, leaving just an entrance and exit to the parking lot on the east and west ends.

“It’s really not a safe condition out there,” Wheeler said. “You’re driving along the road, and there’s full access that full width of the entire gravel parking area.”

Wheeler added that the south side would be for defined parking as “it provides more defined circulation and a safer condition for the road and people entering and leaving the parking area.”

Wheeler said that Phase One would also include installing irrigation and leveling the northwest portion of the park.

The second phase would include the leveling out of the four smaller soccer fields and irrigating the baseball diamond in the southwest corner of the fields, while Phase Three would add an additional four fields, with the softball fields currently in that area being taken offline.

“Aside from the one baseball field in the southwest corner, this will be solely dedicated to fields sports, be it field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, what have you,” Wheeler said.

The final phase would include the elimination of a gravel lot at the east end that would be replaced with grass so that it could be used for field space in the future, Wheeler said.

“All told, we’re looking at four phases combined with the parking and the fields,” Wheeler said. “We feel that’s the most efficient way to do it…from our analysis from a construct-ability and a timing standpoint, this seems to make the most sense, from a phasing standpoint.”

Town Manager Stephen Crane called the master plan “an important quality of life project.”

“I think Wolf Swamp Fields are a quality of life asset,” Crane said. “If you look at the town-wide survey we did, it’s one of the areas that people really gravitate towards when they think of Longmeadow and what makes it a desirable place to live.”

– Article by Jeff Hanouille/Longmeadow News