October 3, 2022 – Following a 16+ month process that leveraged the efforts of so many in prior years, it was especially gratifying when the NRC voted on 7/7 to approve SC’s proposal to install lights and an improved sound system at the T&F. For more information, including how the enhancements will be funded, please refer to the Update for SC on 9/13.

Summary of Phase II Enhancements

Project Sponsors:  School Committee, Natural Resources Commission (land steward)

Project Management: Department of Public Works

Phase II Overview: The School Committee voted in February 2021 to move forward on several projects to enhance Hunnewell Track & Field (T&F). This followed a joint discussion that was held, at the request of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), to confirm what the School Department’s highest priorities were for the T&F – those ended up being bathrooms and team rooms (both previously approved at 2018 Annual Town Meeting) as well as the exploration of lighting.  Adding lighting to the field would help further strengthen Wellesley High School’s athletic programs, an important aspect of the educational experience, by achieving parity with most of the Fall & Spring sports teams at all other schools in the Bay State Conference, and equity from a gender and multi-sport standpoint. The teams that would directly benefit include: boys football, girls field hockey, boys/girls soccer and lacrosse. Not only would lighting reduce the logistical challenges of scheduling with other schools, it would provide greater flexibility for students and staff, as well as a unique opportunity for the town to build a stronger sense of community. 

Estimated Costs: Also see Engineering Diagram of Proposed Site Layout (2021-22) below

Major Components (including installation)Est. Costs
Bathrooms10-stall bathroom & combination bathroom/concession stand$575,115*
Team Rooms BOXX Modular team rooms with Northern lockers, etc. $635,270
Lighting Musco Lighting (including installation)$460,000
Sound SystemCavanaugh Tocci (including installation)$152,000
Contingency on Team Rooms, Lighting & Sound (10%) $125,000
Total* (less $525K appropriated at 2018 Annual Town Meeting for bathrooms)$1,422,270
Target for Fundraising (led by independent organization)$1,500,000

Key Milestones & Estimated Timelines By Major Component

Track & Field Bathrooms 

[Target timeframe of Summer 2023]

  • Funding – $525,000 appropriated at 2018 Annual Town Meeting, but may still need another $50K
  • Design & Permitting: 
    • Wetlands Protection Committee (June 2022)
    • Health Dept. signoff needed for concession stand (IN PROCESS)
    • Design Review Board (being scheduled)
    • Zoning Board of Appeals (TBD)
  • Ordering to follow Design & Permitting; must have all funds 
  • Installation – order-to-delivery time frame approximately 6 months

Lighting & New Sound System 

[Target timeframe of Fall 2023 – assumes funding available EOY 2022]

  • Funding – to be funded privately; SC will accept funding on behalf of town, given its educational purpose 
  • Design & Permitting: 
    • Wetlands Protection Committee (TBD, note: contemplated in Phase I design of field)
    • Design Review Board (TBD)
    • Zoning Board of Appeals (TBD)
  • Ordering – to follow Design & Permitting; must have all funds before placing order
  • Installation – order-to-delivery time frame approx. 3-6 months

Team Rooms 

[Target 6-12 mos after Ordering – assumes funding secured for ordering]

  • Funding – to be funded privately; SC will accept funding on behalf of town, given its educational purpose
  • Design & Permitting: 
    • Wetlands Protection Committee (TBD but contemplated in Phase I design of field)
    • Design Review Board (TBD)
    • Zoning Board of Appeals (TBD)
  • Ordering – to follow Design & Permitting; must have all funds before placing order
  • Installation – order-to-delivery time frame approximately 6 months

 Background on Phase II Enhancements

On February 9, 2021, School Committee (SC) held a joint discussion with the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) regarding the School Department’s priorities for the Hunnewell Track and Field (T&F) projects, and then on February 23, 2021 voted to take the following actions:

  • To move forward with a plan for bathrooms at the Hunnewell T&F using the funding approved at Annual Town Meeting in 2018; and
  • To further explore team rooms & lighting as a package and engage with the Natural Resources Commission on developing a process for moving forward.

The SC, and in particular then Chair Linda Chow, endeavored to follow the process as outlined in this letter which was shared with the NRC at their meeting on March 18. Following a presentation to the NRC of SC’s proposal for enhancing Hunnewell Track & Field on November 18, she responded to questions (see follow-up to 11/18 Q&A document) and then joined the NRC for a continuation of the conversation at their December 2 meeting (see follow-up to 12/2 Q&A document).

School Committee’s Hunnewell Track & Field Enhancements Proposal for the NRC was revised mid-February 2022 to incorporate further details on estimated costs as well as the reasons why temporary lights were ruled out. Around this time, the Committee issued this memo regarding the Schools’ Perspective on the Hunnewell Track & Field Enhancements Proposal Process. The proposal was updated again in early May when SC voted to approve the revised proposal to address feedback from the NRC.

Following thoughtful deliberations over the course of several meetings, the NRC voted on July 7 to approve the installation of lights and sound at the T&F. For more information, including how the enhancements will be funded, please refer to this Update for SC on 9/13.

Program Management


FAQs

Scope Questions
What do the “Hunnewell Track and Field (T&F) Projects” include?Following a joint discussion with the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), School Committee voted on 2/23/21 to take action on the following projects to enhance the Hunnewell Track and Field:

To move forward with a plan for bathrooms at the Hunnewell T&F using the funding approved at Annual Town Meeting in 2018.

To further explore team rooms & lighting as a package and engage with the NRC on developing a process for moving forward given that, as the steward of the Hunnewell fields, the NRC will need to approve the lighting project.
What is the scope of the Hunnewell T&F lighting project? Why is this a priority now? Is this being driven by the Playing Fields Task Force?The scope of the lighting project is on scholastic use only.  With Wellesley and Newton North being the only high schools in the Bay State conference without lighted fields (note: Newton recently decided to install lighting in the next year or two), a key priority is not only to bring the WHS football team to parity with other high school football teams in the conference, but also to make playing under lights more equitable from a multi-sport and gender standpoint by giving the 5 other teams that use the field (boys/girls soccer, boys/girls lacrosse, and girls field hockey) the chance to share this same experience, while at the same time bringing them to parity with teams at other high schools.

The scope does not include trying to solve the needs of the Playing Fields Task Force which is responsible for, among other things, coordinating scheduling of playing fields in town for non-school use.
Is the lighting project limited in scope to T&F lighting only or does it include other nearby fields? Does it include remediation of lighting at other fields?The scope of the lighting project is limited to the Hunnewell T&F only. The NRC brought in a lighting consultant in 2021 to look at lighting of Hunnewell Fields, including existing lighting. From what we understand, the replacement of lighting at the Tennis Courts and Multi-Purpose Field is under consideration for funding at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting. The lighting projects are not mutually exclusive, and are being pursued in parallel.
Why is the lighting project referred to as “Track & Field lighting” rather than “Stadium lighting”?As noted on the signage by the track and field area, WPS calls that site the “Wellesley High School Track & Field.”  The term “stadium” connotes a larger structure which may have contributed to the size of the proposal made at Annual Town Meeting for more toilets than necessary for game needs, i.e., the proposal was for 3 bathroom buildings with a total of 29 fixtures. The goal now is to put up a single bathroom building with 10-15 fixtures.
Why not consider installing lights at one of the turf fields at the Sprague Field Complex for night games?It is important to keep in mind the reason the focus of these projects has been on Hunnewell Track & Field is because the NRC approached School Committee back in January to find out what the SC’s priorities were for that resource, a field that the schools have been using since the late 1930’s.  As noted in the process recap posted on the T&F projects web page, SC and NRC met jointly in Feb. of 2021 and SC confirmed the priorities for the T&F were the bathrooms, team rooms and lighting. In addition, the Town invested over $1M in the 2015-2016 time frame to renovate the T&F, reaffirming the importance of Hunnewell T&F as the home field for WHS teams, not to mention its proximity to the high school.  During that particular project, a lot of analysis and care went into trying to minimize any disruption that future enhancements might cause to the T&F, e.g., conduit was laid for future sports lighting.

There are a number of other concerns pertaining to the Sprague Fields Complex including: no stands, bathrooms, locker rooms, electricity, or scoreboards, and a lack of parking. There is also no ability to “control” the entrance to that field area – which is important to WHS athletics since admission is charged for football games and any night time games which means there would need to be a practical way to collect admission to those events. This is actually one of the reasons why using Babson’s field for a nighttime soccer match proved unsatisfactory a few years ago.
Process Questions
What are the stages of the Hunnewell fields master plan?Phase I of the Hunnewell Track & Field “master plan” included the installation of a new track and turf field which was completed in 2016. 

The proposal for Phase II was to add bathrooms and team rooms by the Track and Field. While the proposal was approved at Annual Town Meeting in 2018, the funding appropriated was insufficient for both structures, so the project has been stalled.

In many respects, we are currently in Phase II although we have expanded it to also include lighting.
Why were conduits installed before lighting was approved?  Was a promise made that lights would never be installed at the Hunnewell Track & Field?Per 2015 Hunnewell Track and Field Renovations FAQs:
To avoid having to dig up the track and field in the future, the plans incorporated the addition of underground utilities (electrical, water, sewer, and data) that may possibly be desired in the future. The new conduits will include electrical lines to support a new sound system, power and lighting to 2 ticket booths, pathway lighting, the scoreboard, and any lifesaving equipment.

It is important to clarify our understanding of past conversations which alluded to a “promise” made that would prohibit lights from being installed on the T&F.  Key leaders from the 2015-2016 Hunnewell T&F Renovation project team, Tripp Sheehan (then Vice Chair, Recreation Commission and Chair, Playing Fields Task Force) and Patti Quigley (School Committee representative) have confirmed that such a commitment was never made. This is consistent with the minutes from the NRC meetings when votes were taken (on 12/15/2015 and 1/7/2016) and the ZBA meetings during which public hearings were held and a final decision made.  It is also worth noting that this engineering diagram of the football field conduit layout (dated 2/2/2016) shows conduit for “future sports lighting,” which is consistent with what was shared at the ZBA meeting on 2/18/2016 (~1:13:32) and in the minutes, i.e., “just in case,” conduit will be installed “under the turf even though there is no plan for lights at this time.”  Further, and significantly, a simple discussion or non-voted decision of a public body about potential future developments, or lack thereof, cannot bind or limit future boards’ actions. This being said, there are ways to establish a mechanism that, once a decision is reached, will make it difficult to change that decision in the future (along the lines of how change requests are managed at Sprague Fields).
Why was a policy drafted before neighborhood representatives were identified?Members of the SC spent considerable time looking at other communities for ideas / approaches to how best to address this topic. The Newton South HS recently went through a similar process with its school community, parks & recreation commission, and neighbors to address issues such as the ones we are addressing here in Wellesley. It seemed appropriate to use their negotiated policy framework as the starting point for discussions with the same stakeholder groups here in town. The intent has always been to gather further input and revise to the needs of Wellesley.
How is the neighborhood being defined? And how are neighborhood representatives being identified?The “neighborhood” refers to residences in the Hunnewell T&F area, i.e., on all streets around the perimeter of the Hunnewell Fields complex as well as Clifford, Cottonwood and Twitchell. Refer to this map which shows which streets are considered part of the neighborhood.

Neighborhood representatives were identified through a survey that was issued during the month of August 2021 when T&F area neighbors were asked to respond to questions about lighting as well as to indicate whether they had interest in the role through that survey. 

Any neighbor who expressed interest in becoming a neighborhood rep, a role that has since been renamed “neighborhood advisor,” was invited to participate in a series of discussions.  The objective of the role was: To give neighbors the opportunity to serve in an advisory role to the Schools by providing their input to help further shape what is meant by school usage of Hunnewell Track & Field lighting, which will include weighing in on the draft lighting and sound policies, as well as a proposed traffic/parking plan. In addition, the role includes sharing what was discussed during neighborhood advisors meeting with other neighbors, plus listening to fellow neighbors and bringing their concerns back to these meetings.
What is the approval process, and what other town boards are involved?  What are the next steps, what is the decision making process?The approval process was expected to go as follows:  

Bathrooms and team rooms were approved by Annual Town Meeting in 2018, but not lighting.  

Lighting proposal to get presented to SC at a meeting (actual date 9/14), and SC to vote on it at a subsequent meeting (SC voted 5-0 on 9/28); 

Lighting proposal to get presented to NRC at one of their meetings (actual date 11/18), and NRC will vote on it at a subsequent meeting.

If approval is given, this will be a new application that will have to go through a site plan review process with the Zoning Board of Appeals, Wetlands and Design Review Board, as well as Select Board for acceptance of private funding. Original permitting included storm water and other utility connections envisioning future enhancements such as team rooms and bathrooms.  Note this process is under the new lighting by-law. 
What is the mechanism to ensure no changes or no unapproved changes are made to any accepted policy related to lighting?Members of the School Committee working on this effort have been looking into following a model similar to what the Sprague Task Force had done with the Sprague Master Plan and the ZBA’s approval process, so as to make sure the approval process for changing the lighting policy is not fluid or easily subject to change.
What is the Need/Who Can Use Lighting Questions
Will bathrooms be available to everyone, not just athletes? Who can use the bathrooms and when?The bathrooms in the smaller concession/bathroom structure will be open to everyone for the same hours as the Aqueduct bathroom (to be installed), even when there is not a game or event taking place.
Who will have access to lighting other than Wellesley High School teams?As is the case with the PA system, we envision that the only individual who will have access to the lighting will be the Wellesley Public Schools Athletic Director (and perhaps the Assistant AD).
Is a temporary lighting solution a possibility, similar to what was utilized in the past? Exactly what are the details of the warranty, e.g., how long does it last? Could temporary lights be located somewhere else other than on the track itself, even if not the best option of lights directly on the track/field itself?From 2005 to 2015, use of temporary lights only made sense for a single game each year (at ~$5K/event) due to a number of factors: noise from generators; glare/trespass from a sub optimal lighting solution; risk of further damage to 40+ year old track; etc).  

When the track and turf field were installed in 2016, there was a 1-year warranty against defects and workmanship on the rubberized track, whereas there is a 10-year warranty on the field’s “carpet.”  

Even though the warranty on the track has expired, the Schools are certainly not willing to risk damaging the track, given that the goal is to be able to utilize it for another 50 years.  

Musco Lighting has provided quotes for temporary sports lighting solutions that range from $35K to $150K per month depending on how far away from the track the poles would need to be mounted. It should be noted that their proposal includes poles that are 50-70′ tall, i.e., heights that are needed to provide enough illumination while not being in an athlete’s line of sight for safe sports play.

Conversations were held during the due diligence process with Newton South’s Athletic Director who is responsible for renting temporary (diesel-powered) lights one month each school year for Newton North (lighting was installed at Newton South in October 2020). It was learned through those discussions that, not long after it was decided to shift out the start time for both high schools, the city and school district made the decision to move forward with the installation of permanent lighting at NNHS. 
Is there a demonstrated need, is there proper utilization of existing resources? Why not look at other town resources for non school use? Why does the multi purpose field not suffice?As noted above, the scope of the lighting project is on scholastic use only and does not include solving the needs for the Playing Fields Task Force around non-school use.  The football team practices on the multipurpose field from August to early November. WHS football practices end up displacing youth football practices which in turn must end later. T&F lights would only be needed for the late afternoon practices.
How can neighbors get assurance that usage will not be expanded to include youth sports teams and private leagues?Please see the response to the question under Process Questions re: what a proposed mechanism will be for controlling changes in lighting usage, which would  incl. the expansion of usage to include youth sports teams or private leagues.
How does the current policy affect students – how many have to leave class early to participate in games?Varsity teams must be released from school early for home MIAA State Tournament games in the Fall given the lack of lights. There is not enough daylight to get an afternoon game in. The early release is usually right after the lunch block at 12:30 pm.  Those games (Field Hockey, Girls Soccer and Boys Soccer) are scheduled by the MIAA for a 2 pm start on weekdays. Obviously, it depends on the year, our teams record and seeding as to which teams must be released. Typically this happens every fall in non-COVID times. Neutral site games do not happen in the current playoff system until the state semifinals. It could be up to four games per team or none. We typically have every team qualify for the state tournament. 

As far as practice is concerned, there are two different needs: (1) late afternoon use of lights for our fall teams when daylight savings ends – this would mean practicing at normal times and ending no later than 7 pm; and (2) practicing under the lights at night to prepare properly to play a night game. We do not expect these practices to occur regularly –  just a few times prior to the individual teams playing games under the lights so that they can get used to it and be able to play safely.
Impact on the Neighborhood Questions
How will traffic be managed?The Wellesley Police Department has traffic and parking plans in place which are revisited prior to any upcoming major event.  The plans are fluid, and the WPD makes adjustments accordingly.  In addition, the traffic consulting firm Vanasse & Associates was brought in to draft a traffic and parking management plan (TMP) to:
* help manage safe movement of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists when events are scheduled at the field complex or at Wellesley High School
* include specific measures to accommodate the associated increase in parking.

The consultant from Vanasse discussed the TMP with Chief Pilecki and Lt. Showstead to make sure they were comfortable with the proposed plan.

Since football games tend to draw the largest attendance, the goal would be to move traffic out as quickly as possible.  WPD would be there for traffic management.  For any night football game, at least during the first year, WPD would plan for a large attendance game  and would scale back as needed.  Overall goal is to keep traffic flowing and allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Parking – who bears the cost of WPD details, can traffic exit to Seaver Street, what are the traffic mitigation and calming plans, have traffic studies been conducted?Since football games draw the largest attendance, the goal would be to move traffic out as quickly as possible.  WPD would be there for traffic management as well as pedestrian safety – officers would be posted at crosswalks to ensure people get to the parking lot safely. 

The cost of WPD details would likely be borne by the Schools, ideally covered by funds in one of their revolving accounts. When WHS was constructed, the road that cuts through the WHS campus was intended to be used for busing only, not parent drop off and pickup. As a result, it is difficult to use that cut-through as an exit onto Seaver St. given the way the road is designed. With events at or around WHS when large numbers of attendees are expected, WPD will post temporary no parking signs, sometimes on one or both sides. Those signs are removed that night or next day. For any night game, WPD would plan as if there is a football game being played, and will scale back as needed.  Overall goal is to keep traffic flowing and allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Noise going into the evening would cause distress – how do you propose addressing that? Will the decibel level for the sound system be reviewed?The Schools hired an audio consulting firm, CavanaughTocci, to conduct a sound study and to make recommendations for how to improve the sound system by leveraging the height of the proposed lighting poles for elevating speakers. We learned how, as with lighting, speakers can be directed downwards which will help reduce the level of sound that would travel beyond the T&F.  In addition, the proposed sound system would have a “sound governor” which controls the decibel level through technology.

Recognizing that crowd noise cannot be controlled in the same way a sound system can be, it should be noted that only the football games are expected to draw crowds (an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 people), of which there are 4-5 per year.  In addition, the School Department would further raise awareness within the school community through communications including signage around neighborhood concerns re: traffic, parking, noise and trash.
How will trash pickup be handled?WHS custodians are responsible for picking up trash following any game or event that takes place at the T&F. DPW would then make a sweep the following day.

WPS Athletic Director John Brown said he is the point of contact at the Schools should any issues arise with noise, traffic, or trash when it comes to the Track and Field. He suggested that people reach out to WPS Athletics.
Impact on Natural Resources Questions
What is the impact of lighting on the environment? What is the impact on wetlands, trees and invertebrates?A key guiding principle for the lighting proposal has been to prioritize responsible implementation in order to mitigate the potential impact of lighting as much as possible. Steps that were taken included:

* making sure the design is “DarkSky compliant” – the design was reviewed by the International DarkSky Association and, as noted in the IDA’s performance report, Musco’s design for lighting the Hunnewell Track & Field meets the IDA’s criteria for Community-Friendly Outdoor Sports Lighting). 

* minimizing the spillage and glare of the lighting on adjacent resources. Given the utilization of IDA compliant lighting, less than 1/10 of 1 foot candle of light is anticipated to be at the edge of the brook. 

* conducting an assessment of potential impacts of lighting on the adjacent wetland wildlife habitat. The team brought in Epsilon Associates, an environmental engineering and consulting company, to perform such an assessment to supplement the findings of the consultant which the Natural Resources Commission had hired.
 
* proposing a reasonable schedule for scholastic usage only of the field at night which would mean lighting only gets turned on as necessary (no more than 100 hours in a year).
What about the Climate Action Plan? What impact will installing lights at Hunnewell Track & Field have on Wellesley’s carbon emissions? Will the Schools commit in writing to supporting the CAP which ATM voted to embrace?The Climate Action Committee sent this letter to School Committee describing the Town’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and advocating for the procurement of the most energy efficient LED lights as possible with the least environmental impact.  The School Committee’s proposal is to install energy efficient and environmentally friendly LED lighting at Hunnewell T&F  that will have minimal impact on the town of Wellesley’s carbon emissions. 
Low Carbon Emissions: The proposed LED lights use very little energy and are projected to generate just 1.3 metric tons of carbon emissions each year (assuming 100 hours of use). This is an infinitesimal % of the 364,457.4 metric tons of carbon emissions the town of Wellesley generated in 2019 and less than 0.16% of the 845.9 metric tons of carbon emissions WHS generated in 2019. It is also less than 2.8% of the carbon emissions from a typical household in the US, and approximately a third of a typical passenger car (per EPA website).

Net-Zero Carbon Emissions: Furthermore, the Schools would like to recommend powering Hunnewell Track & Field lights with 100% renewable energy which would reduce the carbon emissions to zero. Based on current MLP cost projections, this could be done for around $200/yr.
 
Here are the numbers:



School Committee has demonstrated its strong commitment to town-wide sustainability goals through the years – most notably, by making sure the new Hardy and Hunnewell elementary schools will be net-zero ready (see pp. 37-39 of the 2021 Special Town Meeting presentation); and most recently, through the participation by SC members on several Climate Action Plan subcommittees. The proposal for enhancing Hunnewell T&F reflects the Schools’ continued commitment to supporting the CAP (see calculations above)  and could in fact serve as a showcase since Hunnewell T&F would be the first site in the state with lighting that meets the International DarkSky Association’s Community-Friendly Outdoor Sports Lighting standards. There have also been discussions about opportunities, if lighting is installed, to use events at the T&F to bring  the Climate Action Committee’s message to a potentially new segment of the Wellesley community.
Funding Questions
How will fundraising be handled? Why is there a marketing campaign for the lights? Is funding the driver of the project, what is the transparency around fundraising? Why private vs town funding – why not have a town vote?The bathroom and the team room were expected to be funded by Article 17 of the 2018 Annual Town Meeting.  The funds allocated at the time ($525K) were insufficient to cover both projects.  In February 2021, SC voted to move forward with using the funds to build the bathroom.  Funds for the team room would need to come from either town or private funding, as this facility is not eligible for CPC funding.  
No marketing campaign will begin until SC and NRC vote to approve the installation of lighting, and the SB has approved the use of private funding for the project (as required by NRC policy).

Bathroom

  • DPW engaged Weston & Sampson (W&S) to assist with bathroom/team room sizing & placement
  • Received balance of $175K for bathrooms from Field Fund (SB accepted on 5/10)
  • Building & plumbing depts conceptually agreed to reduce # stalls from 29 to 14
  • Decided on CXT’s 10-unit bathroom & concession/bathroom combo

See diagram of 10-unit bathroom from CXT

See diagram of concession/bathroom combination from CXT

Team Rooms

  • Schools reviewed and signed off on layout from Vanguard  
  • W&S reviewed Vanguard layout and provided comment
  • Town Engineer provided site layout showing bathrooms & team rooms
  • Obtained preliminary cost estimates to help set fundraising target

See diagram of 28′ x 56′ team room from Vanguard

Track and Field Lighting

Community Events

  • Abutters/neighbors meeting held on May 27: Hunnewell T&F neighbors were invited to: hear what is being considered by school dept., share feedback, ask questions, and discuss the idea of identifying neighborhood reps to serve as points of contact for WHS re: the T&F projects.
  • Community forum held on June 2: Community members learned about what is being considered for all 3 projects and in particular from a lighting perspective based on school department’s requirements, shared feedback and asked questions.

Project Background

Aerial view of Hunnewell Track and Field


Engineer’s View of Projects – 2018


Engineering Diagram of Proposed Site Layout – 2021-22

Secured By miniOrange