WOBURN - Presented with three options for the location of a new facility that will include bathrooms and a concession stand, the City Council this week continued until its next meeting on May 20 a public hearing on a proposal for Gonsalves Park in West Woburn.
The council's Special Permits Committee is expected to meet Monday night to review the proposal and possibly issue a recommendation for a vote at the May 20 session.
"We seem to have three options," Alderman at-large Michael Concannon said. "I'd like to have a little more conversation. It's a great idea; a great organization. I just want to make sure we do it right."
The concession stand/bathrooms facility is a joint venture between the city and Woburn Little League, which uses Gonsalves Park off South Bedford Street for its expanding softball program. Upgraded in recent years, Gonsalves Park also includes tennis courts and a basketball court.
City Engineer Jay Corey said the new bathrooms/concessions facility will be approximately 40-feet by 20-feet. Woburn Little League will provide the building itself and appurtenances for the bathrooms, and the city will provide the frost wall and utilities.
Four locations for the building were considered, but one was eliminated because it was too close to the neighboring homes. The favored location at this point is between the two softball fields, which will "fairly easy to get to," with utilities connections off Willow Street, Corey said.
Tom Skeffington, Vice-President of Woburn Little League, said the diamonds at Gonsalves Park are strictly used for softball. They cannot be used for baseball because the pitching mounds are not elevated.
Skeffington also said there will be motion-detection lighting and video surveillance for security. Supplies will be shuttled to the building via a 2-wheeler from the parking area, which will be gravel and not paved, according to Ward 1 Alderman Rosa DiTucci because Gonsalves Park is in a groundwater protection area. Skeffington said there are plans to locate a dumpster near the building, but that turned out to be a point of contention with the neighbors who were in the audience and do not want a large trash receptacle on-site.
"If they don't want a dumpster there, we don't put a dumpster there," Skeffington said. "We'll put (trash) in the back of the truck and take it (off-site)."
Three neighbors spoke during the public hearing. South Bedford Street resident Marie Flannery said her current view from her kitchen window is of two portable potties, over which the new building would be an improvement. She said she prefers the location between the outfield than the original location closer to her home.
South Bedford Street resident Dan Russo said he agrees the location between the fields "works the best" and said he was opposed to the inclusion of a dumpster.
"The dumpster's got to go," he said.
South Bedford Street resident Marilyn Crampton said she would not be in favor of the bathrooms being open to the public after hours, as it might attract loiterers.
Skeffington also spoke during the public hearing. He noted Woburn Little League is flourishing, with 735 participants, including 230 in the softball program. Woburn's facilities, he added, are the envy of the region, thanks in part to the money the program spends on improvements and the diligence of the city's Parks Dept., which keeps the city's playing fields pristine.
"We'd like to apply for the 2015 state championships," said Skeffington, adding the state tournament brought in an estimated $185,000-$200,000 in associated revenue to Worcester when that city hosted it. "For us to be a viable softball program, we need this (concessions/bathrooms facility)."
David Hill, also with Woburn Little League, added the location of the building between the two fields will provide for better handicapped access.
Ward 4 Alderman Michael Anderson said it is important to have facilities at a playing field, noting the new field at the high school has neither bathrooms nor a concession stand, a situation he called "ridiculous."
DiTucci said she wanted to make sure the building is painted in subtle colors, with nothing too bright that would be an imposition to the neighbors.
Ward 6 Alderman Michael Raymond asked if basketball and tennis players would be allowed to use the bathrooms. Skeffington said they could while the Little League programs are underway, but the bathrooms will be not open around the clock.
"Keeping them open when there's nobody there … we're just opening them up to vandalism," Skeffington concluded.