More Pitches for Pickleball at CPC Hearing

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In the second of the two planned public input hearings for the Community Preservation Commission, held Tuesday evening at 7 pm, there was a much higher level of participation than in the meeting held earlier in the month.

But one thing was consistent: pickleball. Two women, Amanda Groh and Kim Sparks came forward to present on the topic, with Groh taking the lead. She cited the very rapid growth of pickleball nationally and suggested building multiple additional courts to keep up with the demand. She said the game can be played by young children as well as senior citizens.

Again, there was something of a disconnect because at least one member of the CPC admitted to unfamiliarity with the sport. Later in the meeting recreation director Ryan Jette also indicated that efforts are underway to assess demand and determine how much priority to give to pickleball compared to other recreation needs. He did say classes are consistently filled.

Groh noted that according to her research, courts can be built for $20 to $40 per square foot.
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen noted that other courts built by the town have been built to a higher standard, with reinforced concrete, to provide longer service life. This, he said, could raise costs.

The next proposal came from Shannon Nisbett, the town’s Veteran’s Services Officer. She spoke about a project to repair and upgrade the numerous war monuments on the Town Common, begun during the tenure of her predecessor, Dale Kurtz, concrete bases have been rebuilt for the monuments along Main Street. Her biggest concern is the so called “doughboy” World War I monument, which she said has developed leaks and has water accumulating inside of it. One estimate she received, which did not include internal repairs, was for $26,000. She noted that all of monuments honor our veterans and contribute to the character of the town. She asked the CPC to be mindful of these needs and said she will likely return with a formal request for funds when more has been determined about the work needed.

A graduate student at BU, who resides in Franklin, spoke next. She stated that she had created a study that she hoped would help the town prioritize open space purchases and she offered to make it available to the committee for their use.

Then came a speaker who lives near Mine Brook. He said “I am not here to ask for money,” but instead, he explained, to speak out against a proposal mentioned in the previous meeting by Alan Earls to open up trails into the Army Corps of Engineers lands. He said this would bring traffic and pedestrians into his neighborhood and he made clear he and his neighbors didn’t want the project to go ahead.

This sparked a lively conversation involving several people. Hellen noted that the project was likely too expensive and was not moving forward at this time.

When that subject petered out, Maxwell Morangiello spoke up on two matters. First, he suggested that the community develop a uniform way to evaluate CPC proposals. “I think that there should be something consistent -- a consistent way to evaluate what the best course of action is going forward.” Morangiello also stressed the great need for public and subsidized housing and that projects of that type should also get funding.

Susan Spears offered a kind of concluding comment, starting with compliments to the CPC for all the work they are doing. She said, like Max, she really wants to see money available for affordable housing in Franklin. “I hear the need for active recreation, and there's a dozen more open space projects, you know, over the next several years that we all might bring forward to you but in this first year, I really think that the plan should focus on distributing [funds] so that some needs in each category are answered,” she said.

And, she added, “As Max was just saying, it will help the public be part of the process. If we all see the criteria, and understand there's a community wide goal involved in all the projects that get chosen.”

“I think that the highest and the best process will really help everyone understand how our tax dollars are going to be spent,” she said.

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