WILMINGTON — At their meeting on Monday night, the Board of Selectmen thoroughly vetted a memo from Town Manager Jeff Hull on the accommodations proposed to allow Wilmington High School football and cheerleading during the fall 2 season. The main issue he recounted in the memo is that the high school football field is covered in snow, which the DPW tried to remedy by clearing the softball field.
As they started, Hull said they realized that this would damage the field and the town began to seek other fields for clearing instead.
“The expectation was that we might get colder weather and the ground would firm up,” Hull continued.
However, he said that now with warmer weather conditions ahead, the work started at the softball field can’t be resumed without further damage.
After discussion with Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand and Athletic Director Mia Muzzio, he recommended the Yentile Farms’ turf football field be cleared rather than the high school turf field due to its longer warranty period and extra rock padding underneath. He shared that a firm has been hired by the athletic department for $5,500 to finish clearing off the field at Yentile by the end of this week.
The goal is to let the football team start practicing as soon as any field is cleared of snow. Hull explained that the football team has three away games scheduled before three potential home games on April 10, 17, and 24.
Greg Bendel added that clearing a field from snow would also guarantee the ability for cheerleading to take place during the fall 2 season as the MIAA has ruled that cheerleading will only take place at home football games.
“If the field at the high school is cleared by natural cause, that would make the most sense to play there,” Hull said.
He said that hopefully they can move to the regular field by the first home game.
Kevin Caira mentioned that both turf fields at the high school and Yentile have pellets that would be plowed away with the snow and potentially into wetlands surrounding the field. Hull assured the board that the snow removal would be done in such a way so as to avoid putting the excess snow and pellets into the maple meadow brook but towards the endzone or other sides of the field. His expectation is that the DPW would also touch base about replacing any lost pellets from the snow removal.
Gary DePalma asked whose decision it was for the field at Yentile over the high school to be cleared — which Hull said was his personal input.
“If there’s a chance for both [fields] to have damage, I don’t know why they’re not using [the high school] field,” DePalma said.
He went on to imply that these fields should have been made for year-round use. Caira added that this would be an opportunity for the town to see if that statement would prove true.
The board appreciated the efforts being made by the town manager at the same time, recognizing all of the avenues explored to get athletes playing sports this season including the high school softball field and Glen Road fields.
“We want to reassure people at home that the town has been on top of this,” Greg Bendel shared.
He brought attention to the DPW’s concern about the soil testing behind the high school that might be affected by moving the snow off the fields there. Caira said that Hull has done his best in a difficult situation.
Jomarie O’Mahony reminded everyone that the point is to get student athletes onto the field so that they can have as much of a normal season as possible.
“Let’s not complicate matters to the point where [student athletes] aren’t given opportunities because they’ve had a lot taken away from them already,” she said.
Bendel suggested that the board look into the purchase of something that’s made to clear snow from synthetic fields for the town in case a similar situation takes place in the future.