While the entire project isn't done yet, enough is done that teams and individuals can use the new fields.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Although the project isn’t complete yet, the fields off Route 1A are finally in use, nearly a decade after a town meeting approved the land to be purchased for $400 an acre. But while many of the project’s results - like how much better the new fields hold up to years of use - won’t be realized for a long time, according to Walpole Recreation Director Brendan Croak, the new fields are already having a positive effect on the town and have already gotten high marks from the athletes who’ve played on them.
Artificial turf fields have come a long way since Philadelphia Phillie Dick Allen declared “if a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it” in the early 1970’s. Now, for soccer and football, turf fields have become the norm in most towns, largely because they are easier to maintain. Croak explained another big advantage, though: “It prolongs the playable season, so to speak. You can play ten, eleven or twelve months if you wanted to, as opposed to the nine or ten you could on a grass field.”
But if you’re a grass field purist, the new turf fields are actually something you should be supporting, rather than deriding. Croak explained that the new fields are “more modern and better designed than some of the other fields in town. The other fields were made years and years ago, so drainage has been an issue, or over time grass dies and gets burned out. Over time, those older fields show their age a bit more, so these newly engineered fields are going to drain better, they’re going to hold up better.” He also pointed out that just having so many more fields in town will be hugely advantageous to the older grass ones, since they won’t be as heavily used and will have a bit of time to regenerate, without taking the day-in, day-out beating they usually do.
Croak also pointed to the new lights at the complex as being a huge deal, since they will allow even more times for people to be on the new fields. “If you were to go there right now, there’s probably ten to twenty kids spread out throughout both turf fields, especially with vacation week going on right now,” he said on Friday, April 23. Cloak explained that at this point, youth organizations in town, like Walpole Youth Soccer and Walpole Youth Lacrosse, are using the fields, and that Walpole Little League had tryouts when the natural fields weren’t ready earlier in the spring. But he also pointed out that a couple private men’s leagues have rented them, as well. And with more and more leagues looking to use the fields as we enter spring and summer, according to Cloak, they have been met with outstanding reviews.
“The groups that have used it are extremely impressed, love the fields and can’t wait to continue using them, and it’s the same with private rentals. With everyone that’s officially rented the field, the feedback has been exceptional.”