Whately aims to build new softball field at Herlihy

  • The ballfield at Herlihy Park on River Road in Whately. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Herlihy Park on River Road in Whately could be the site of new softball field, contingent upon a Special Town Meeting vote later this month. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Herlihy Park on River Road in Whately could be the site of new softball field, contingent upon a Special Town Meeting vote later this month. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The softball field at the former East Whately School, known colloquially as “the blue school,” was sold to developer Bob Obear about six months ago, creating the need for a new softball field in Whately. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The softball field at the former East Whately School, known colloquially as “the blue school,” was sold to developer Bob Obear about six months ago, creating the need for a new softball field in Whately. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/19/2019 6:47:47 PM
Modified: 7/19/2019 6:47:34 PM

WHATELY — The two articles on the warrant for a Special Town Meeting later this month aim to build a softball field at Herlihy Park to replace the one at the old elementary school sold to developer Bob Obear about six months ago.

One article asks if voters agree to appropriate and transfer $62,127 in available Community Preservation Act money for the new field. Adoption of the other article would repurpose $3,000 in unexpended money, appropriated at the 2016 Annual Town Meeting, for the field’s construction and development. The special town meeting is slated to begin Wednesday, July 31, at 7 p.m. in the Whately Town Offices at 4 Sandy Lane.

Selectboard Clerk Jonathan Edwards explained girls long used the field at the former East Whately School, known locally as “the blue school” due to its exterior paint job, but the building and land are no longer town property. This has created need for a new field.

Edwards said there is “a good chunk of space” underutilized on Herlihy’s southwest side. It is used in the fall for youth soccer, but goes unused about nine and a half months each year.

“As soccer fields go, it’s not the most flat field in the world,” he said, adding that the softball field at the East Whately School was usable but “never a nice field. We weren’t doing all that we could do for girls who wanted to play softball.”

Edwards said the new softball field could be used by not only Whately girls, but girls from around the area. Its outfield could still be used for soccer, he said.

Edwards, who also sits on the Whately Recreation Commission, said the town will manage the work, which includes regrading. He said Whately will start to solicit quotes for the required excavation work this month, noting that these quotes will be non-binding and the entire process will end if voters reject the articles at meeting.

“It’s a wonderful project,” Edwards said. “It’s a project that we’ve all been working hard on for several months to make sure there is proper support.”

There are already two baseball fields at Herlihy, at 271 River Road.

Both Special Town Meeting warrant articles are recommended by the town’s Selectboard, Community Preservation Committee and Recreation Commission. Both require majority votes for adoption.

Bob Obear, who owns Obear Construction Company in Montague, said he plans to renovate the East Whately School — which also once served as the administrative offices of the Frontier Regional and Union 38 school districts — into a combination of affordable and market-rate housing. He explained he is applying for historic rehabilitation tax credits. He expects to start the project in the late fall or early winter.

Obear said he expects the building to consist of eight to 10 one-bedroom apartments, with 25 percent being designated affordable. He explained there are no immediate plans for the existing softball field, though it may eventually be used as a green space and for parking.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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