Glocester Town Council scuttles voter-approved ballfield purchase

Glocester Town Council scuttles voter-approved ballfield purchase

GLOCESTER - Plans for a new Little League field were set back when the Town Council at its Dec. 5 meeting rejected the purchase of 27 acres of land on Money Hill Road, after voters had approved the transaction at a Financial Town Meeting in November.

William "Pat" Freaney, president of the Glocester Little League, had hoped that the site could become a field for his young players, a move that would enable the league to grow and add amenities like a scoreboard while relieving the cemetery association of its responsibilities as host.

However, the unanimous vote last Thursday saw council members back away from the proposed $150,000 purchase on Route 100, planning instead to work with the town's own Land Trust to find another suitable recreational site.

Regarding the Money Hill land, Town Planner Ray Goff recalled for the council how he was charged with finding an approximate five-acre parcel for the Glocester Little League, now playing on borrowed space owned by Acotes Hill Cemetery Association.

With a site of 26.74 acres, Goff called the extra land a "bonus" and proposed the construction of two Little League fields and three smaller playing fields. He acknowledged that the site contained boulders and wetlands.

The council, however, was concerned with the apparently exorbitant cost of clearing the property, although no specific cost figures were cited.

"It's not the right property," said Councilman George O. "Buster" Steere Jr., who took the lead in the discussion. "It is an awful lot of money" to pay for what he called "swamp land," in a condition so rough that it would be expensive to clear it for sports use.

Other council members recalled a situation about 20 years ago when a previous council purchased what is now Glocester Memorial Park and ended up spending "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Burlingame said, to clear it. "The worst thing we can do is have another boondoggle like that," he said. "I feel we can do better with another piece of property," Buster Steere said.

Walter M.O. Steere III, council president, called the cost to develop the fields one of his "biggest concerns" because he said it is "rocky in some places." On the other hand, he noted that people like Goff "did a lot of work to get us to this point" and, Town Solicitor Timothy F. Kane confirmed, the town will lose its $5,000 deposit on the Money Hill Road land.

The purchase was to be funded with $75,000 that will now stay in the capital account and another $75,000 in the form of a state Department of Environmental Management grant that could be lost. Council President Steere said the town will ask DEM if the grant can be used for another recreational-use purchase.

Anne E, Ejnes, a member of the Land Trust as well as chairwoman of the Glocester School Committee, was in the audience and immediately announced that she would be "more than happy" to work with the council, with discussions slated to begin as soon as the current week. Sette, liaison to the Land Trust, said he will report back at the next council meeting, Dec. 19.

In another matter, Walter Steere said he, Sette, Goff, state Sen. Paul W. Fogarty of Glocester and Rep. Michael W. Chippendale of Foster will be meeting Dec. 17 with state Department of Transportation Director Michael P. Lewis to discuss the status of the decorative street lamps the state installed in Chepachet Village a few months ago.

Town officials say the lamp posts are located too close to the road, where snow plows will hit them, and they want to know who would pay for replacements in that case. The lamps were lit for the first time on the night of the council meeting, the first night of the three weeks of Candlelight Shopping along Main Street. "The lights are on, they look nice," Walter Steere said.