WILMINGTON, MA — Town Manager Jeff Hull recently announced that Textron is willing to enter into a licensing agreement with the Board of Selectmen to allow Wilmington’s sports organizations to use the company’s overgrown ballfields and tennis courts.
“Textron currently wishes to retain [the fields and courts] as part of their larger piece of property… They don’t have any specific plans to vacate the property…. And they’re not interested in a lease,” said Hull. “But one option they ARE amendable to is the prospect of a license. A license is not a right of ownership, but an authorization to use the property.”
The Wilmington Recreation Department, Wilmington Little League, and Wilmington High School’s Athletic Department indicated they were not interested in using the fields or courts on Lowell Street, indicating their current arrangements were sufficient.
“If we don’t have any particular use for the space at the moment, I guess I would question if there’s any benefit to the town signing a license agreement,” Hull asked the Selectmen, noting the town would be responsible for cleaning the land up. Town funds would have to spent to make the fields and courts playable and routinely mow the grass. Hull did note the license, itself, would be free.
“I find it hard to believe that no one would want to use the fields is we cleaned it up a bit,” responded Selectmen Chair Greg Bendel. “It’s cheesy, but I’m reminded of the famous movie line — ‘if you build it, they will come’.”
Hull clarified that, under the license, only town-sanctioned and school-sanctioned groups could use the courts and fields. No pickup games from the general public would be permitted.
Hull was unsure how much it would cost the town to bring the courts and fields up to playable conditions. Hull also wasn’t certain about the length of any proposed license agreement.
Selectmen decided to table any vote until the next meeting, at which time Hull will provide the requested information.
Selectmen invited representatives from Wilmington youth sports to reach out to the Town Manager’s Office to indicate if they’d be interested in using the fields or courts once they’re cleaned up. Selectwoman O’Mahony noted that while the fields were built for baseball and softball, other sports could utilize the space.
During the ‘Public Comments’ portion of the meeting, School Committee member David Ragsdale offered his two cents.
“The Textron fields are a tremendous eyesore. Whether town groups are able to use the field or not, a license that allows the town the ability to mow the fields would be a great improvement,” said Ragsdale. “It would be worth doing just for that alone. [Mowing the fields] would make a great improvement to one of the town’s main thoroughfares.”
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