By Elizabeth Hacala
As part of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) public hearing Bedford resident Mike Rosenberg presented a request for $90,000 in Community Preservation funds for a new press box at Sabourin Field.
Rosenberg explained that the press box is not simply used by the press but is an integral part of the field operation. He described how the press box is used for running the scoreboard and clock during games. Also, the timekeeper is an official in many sports, and the lack of adequate time keeping could make the field unusable by some leagues and teams.
Department of Recreation Director Amy Hamilton confirmed that teams looking to use or rent the fields often ask about press box facilities when contacting the department. Keith Mangan Director of Athletics at Bedford High School was also there to support the importance of this project. He stated that the fields were used by a wide variety of teams, and they would all benefit from a new press box.
Mr. Rosenburg added that the press box is used by the press, local access cable, students, and coaches. In lieu of a press box last fall the school had to rent a mechanical lift to allow games to proceed.
The project cost of $90,000 consisted of $65,000 to build the structure itself and $25,000 to install a lift that would allow access to the new press box. The lift would provide the required handicapped access to the press box as well.
Members of the Community Preservation Committee expressed concern that they were being asked to fully fund a program. Several members questioned the appropriateness of this project under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Committee member and former selectman Catherine Cordes pointed out that among the criteria the committee uses to evaluate projects is the variety of funding sources being used. She explained that many projects that came to the committee are funded through a combination of CPC and non-CPC funds and that this project would benefit from seeking other support as well. The committee urged Mr. Rosenberg to reach out to other organizations and clubs in town to see if they would be willing to support the project financially.
In the end the Community Preservation Committee narrowly voted to recommend the project to Town Meeting for consideration contingent on agreement from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue that such a project was permissible under the CPA, and a good faith effort by interested parties to reach out to the community for broader support.
When the Department of Revenue was contacted, their representative said the press box would not qualify for CPC funds, so the project is not on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting.