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Finalization near of plan for new fields near library

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TOWNSEND — With selectmen’s enthusiastic support last Tuesday, the Recreation Commission is moving ahead with plans for new sports fields near the library/senior center.

The plan is to construct two basketball courts and a beach-volleyball court on an eight-acre parcel that sits between the library parking lot and the Squannacook Early Childhood Center, according to Townsend Recreation Commissioner Sharon Whittier.

She says the plan could be put to voters as early as spring Town Meeting. During her six years on the commission, she says Townsend Recreation has always been trying to build up their facilities.

“A building that could house gyms and other facilities is our ultimate goal, but it is a big goal,” Whittier said.

Instead, using money built up over several years of summer programs, they will be allocating space for the courts. She said that the recreation staff, especially Director Karen Clement, worked very hard to build up the funds.

“This is a way to give it back to the community in a meaningful way,” Whittier said.

Apart from open court times, she said youth and adult leagues, summer programs and TAP basketball possibilities are also being explored by the commission. Its location between the library, Hawthonre Brook and Squannacook schools and police station, she added, makes it a safe place for kids to congregate.

Selectmen waived any permit fees for the commission and only took issue with safety in regards to the large boulder that currently sits on the land.

“The liability won’t change, there’s nothing to do in town for kids right now,” said Tom Whittier during the selectmen’s discussion.

According to Sharon Whittier, the plan is to set the courts away from the boulder. Later this week, the Recreation Commission is expected to have the project approved by the Capital Planning Committee and Zoning Board to finalize the process.

Townsend police Lt. David Profit also spoke in support, saying that a place where kids could gather for activities “does so much for local youth.”

Although the commission has been moving forward with this venture, another group, the Townsend Recreation Activity Council, is also exploring other recreational opportunities.

According to the recreation website, the group was looking at repairing Hawthorne Brook’s defunct tennis courts, exploring the possibility of a skatepark and designing after-school programs. Whittier said they were formed to act in a capacity much like the Friends of the Townsend Library.

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