Town Meeting signs off on road, Memorial Stadium, and Cornell Pond improvements

Oct 16, 2019

While Town Meeting did not approve expanded marijuana zoning, members did sign off on other articles, including improvements to town streets, Memorial Stadium, Cornell Pond, and the town’s open space housing bylaw.

At the October 15 Town Meeting, members approved without debate the town’s $8 million capital plan, which contains big-ticket purchases by the town.

At the top of the list: $3.6 million to complete the remainder of the Memorial Stadium renovation project. The project was initially proposed with two additional phases, however the remaining phases were combined into one.

A major renovation of Memorial Stadium had been in the discussion stages for close to a decade before becoming a reality last year. The aging facility suffered from a lack of handicap accessibility, poor lighting and drainage, and a deteriorating natural grass turf.

Last year Town Meeting approved the first phase of the renovation project. The $1.7 million project saw the addition of a new artificial turf field and new LED lighting. The first phase was completed earlier in the year.

With the approval of the $3.6 million remainder of the project, the visitor and home grandstands will be renovated, as will the kitchen and bathrooms. Concession stands, a maintenance shed, and other structures will be added as well.

According to Select Board and Memorial Stadium construction committee member David Tatelbaum, work will now commence to get the project put out to bid.

Separately, the committee is also finalizing plans to pursue fundraising options to help offset the cost of the project. Tatelbaum said fundraising as a public entity is complex, but the committee is working to ensure everything is done above board.

Town Meeting also approved $1.6 million for road maintenance and improvements. Combined with state funding, the town plans to put $2.9 million into improving town roadways with a focus on Bliss Corner side streets.

“We have a number of side roads that are in very poor shape,” Director of Finance Greg Barnes said. “Last year we targeted money towards Bliss Corner. This year we will continue to target Bliss Corner because those subdivision roads are the oldest in town.”

Cornell Pond will also receive a facelift with $36,500 originally earmarked for addressing an aging dam. Town Meeting originally approved the funding over the past several years to address the Cornell Pond Dam after the state designated it a “significant” hazard. The state has since reclassified the dam as a “low” hazard.

Instead, the money will be used to conduct a land survey and clear brush, build a series of bridges across spillways, and create a path to connect with trails at DNRT’s nearby Howland Reserve — which would provide visitors with much-needed parking.

Currently, Cornell Pond can be accessed from a small dirt parking lot off of Old Fall River Road. It is maintained by Dartmouth Parks and Recreation.

Town Meeting also approved significant revisions to the town’s Open Space Residential Development (OSRD) bylaw. The bylaw allows subdivision developers to build denser subdivisions in exchange for protecting open space.

The revisions clarify and set clear legal guidelines for the preservation of open space. To date, 30 OSRD subdivisions have been approved, and 370 acres of land has been protected.