WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Board of Selectmen recently unanimously approved a field use policy for several of the town’s most popular fields, including the Rotary Park’s Baseball Field, Aprile Field (Town Park), Palmer Field (behind Town Hall) and Whitefield Field.
None of the town parks in question previously had an official field use policy. This new policy, drafted by Recreation Director Karen Campbell and vetted by the Recreation Commission, is modeled after the successful field use policy implemented last year at the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility.
“It’s recently become more of a problem that we don’t have a policy for our fields. With the popularity of Yentile, many groups – both formal and informal – are coming to the Recreation Department when Yentile is busy and asking for other field space,” explained Campbell. “Word has gotten out that Wilmington doesn’t charge us for our fields. This has helped us because we don’t have the liabilities issues that other towns do when they charge. But, at the same time, it makes much more attractive to [outside] groups.”
The intention of the policy is to direct the Recreation Department on how best to handle field use permit requests. Campbell suggested that not much would change for Wilmington Public Schools or the Wilmington Youth Sports Groups, but that informal groups will be re-examined under the new policy.
“There’s been groups that have longstanding permits for many years. Some of these groups have morphed over time and – at this point – we’re not sure the intended users of the field are residents of the town or employees of companies in town,” said Campbell. “We want to ensure we’re back to providing field space for [the appropriate audiences].”
Campbell highlighted the two key differences between the existing Yentile Farm policy and the new policy covering the Rotary, Aprile, Palmer and Whitefield fields.
First, while Yentile Farm is a carry-in, carry-out facility, trash barrels will remain at Rotary Park, Aprile Field, Palmer Field, and Whitefield Field.
“For non-permitting, casual use, people will still have a place to throw out trash,” assured Campbell. “And youth organizations are already handling their trash. Whenever there’s issues, DPW reaches out and the organization in question cleans up their act.”
Second, the priority list for field use is different, with Wilmington Public Schools getting top priority at Rotary Park’s Baseball Field, Aprile Field, Palmer Field and Whitefield Field. Wilmington Youth Sports Groups are the second priority for those four fields, while its the top priority as Yentile.
When asked about school fields, like the Shawsheen soccer fields, Campbell noted that the school department is in charge of permitting those.
Selectman Kevin Caira recommended putting signs up at the four fields covered by the new policy, clarifying that field use is by permit only. Campbell took the comment under advisement.
“It would be really advantageous to have residents be able to apply for field use permits online,” Selectman Greg Bendel told Campbell.
Campbell agreed, noting the policy and applications for permits will eventually be placed on the Wilmington Recreation Department’s website, as they already are for Yentile.
The policy doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2019, allowing plenty of time to educate the public and to notify all past and current permit holders.
Residents and interested parties can be read the new policy HERE.
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