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Better ball fields coming to Conway

  • Conway recreational fields behind Town Hall. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Conway recreational fields behind Town Hall. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Conway ball fields.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Conway ball fields. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Conway recreational fields behind Town Hall. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Conway ball fields.  Recorder/Paul Franz

CONWAY — A muddy, soggy and flooded town ball field will soon be a memory as the Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee prepares for a long-sought drainage improvement this year.

On May 19, the committee plans to break ground on the project that would correct standing water and storm drainage issues that committee Chairman Dave Beaudet said has been a thorn in the town’s side for years.

The goal is to have the project complete for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2017.

The field behind the town hall is home to the annual Festival of the Hills and youth sport leagues and the Chesbro Challenge baseball game, all of which have had to cope with muddy fields at times. On Wednesday, the committee held an informational session on the project, inviting youth sports, the Highway Department, Board of Selectmen and 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

Improvements will include a new lower parking area, hardened walkways to increase accessibility, a new stairway by Whately Road and relocation of the basketball and tennis courts. The courts are moving slightly — by 10 feet toward Route 116 — to avoid regulated wetlands. There will be two half basketball courts and one full tennis court.

The committee is also ensuring power conduits used for food vendors during the Festival of the Hills are unaffected.

The project will be partly funded by a non-matching $997,521 state grant the town received last December. The grant would fund the highway and safety portions of the project — upper storm water control, paving, curbing, walls and guardrail improvements on sidewalks and parking along Route 116 and Academy Hill Road and relocation of the basketball and tennis courts.

To keep costs to the town low, the committee has applied for a second non-matching grant for $197,000 in February to cover field drains, grading and reconstruction of the baseball field. The committee will find out in April if it receives the grant in time for the annual town meeting. It applied for the grant’s maximum of $200,000.

“It hinges on the next two months on how we proceed forward, funding wise,” said Craig Warner, committee member.

The goal is to have the project completed by the end of the year — the deadline to use the MassWorks grant in hand.

The committee hopes to award a construction contract by the end of April and start construction May 19. The project end date would be in October.

The Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee has been working on the project since 2011.

The project means other groups would have to stay off the field until it stabilizes, Beaudet said. These include youth baseball, adult softball, the Chesbro Challenge, youth soccer and the Festival of the Hills. The groups are considering the Conway Grammar School fields as possible alternatives.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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