“There’s no money for it,” said Mayor Art Ward. “Right now, unfortunately, it’s not feasible.”
The city’s long-term projects list includes only a $700,000 allocation for the project – sometime after 2014.
Ward said that it was purchased as open space and that’s what it will stay for the time being, useful for passive recreation and dog walking.
Though the 47-acre site on Chippens Hill has been eyed for softball fields, it doesn’t appear that anything will happen there for years given the need to create a long driveway, parking and much more. The infrastructure simply doesn’t exist on the parcel to create much of anything yet.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley told the Roberts Property Committee this winter that he would still like to see it reestablish itself “and get something done” on the site off James P. Casey Road, but the lack of money makes it unlikely that officials will push for the recreation complex.
Ward said he thought the land might make a good spot for one of the two new schools sought by the Board of Education, but others disagreed so the city is in the process of buying farmland off Matthews Street instead. Chippens Hill Middle School is across the street from the former Roberts property.
The plan sought by the committee called for a leveling the property, building an access road, adding 300 parking spaces, putting in a baseball and a softball field, making a paved walking trail along the site’s perimeter and perhaps having a large multi-use field, a concession stand, a dog park, playground and more.
Sports leagues in town, ranging from the Bristol Soccer Club to McCabe-Waters Little League, pleaded for the city to move ahead with the project, citing a drastic shortage of playing fields in town.
City councilors have voted to use the site for active recreation, though Ward and his predecessor, William Stortz, opposed the sports complex.
Ward said that any plan is likely to prove costly. That won’t fly given the economic woes afflicting the entire nation, the mayor said.
The project isn’t going to happen “for the foreseeable future,” Ward said.
The city bought the property eight years ago for $1.23 million with the intention of using it for recreation. One official, former city Councilor Tom Ragaini, said at the time the site was “the perfect spot” for a sports complex.
A controversial $11 million plan for the land was gunned down several years when Board of Finance members complained that it was too costly.
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