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    DEDHAM

    Town puts Manor Fields Park project on hold

    A rendering of Dedham's Manor Fields Park.
    Activitas and Town of Dedham
    A rendering of Dedham's Manor Fields Park.

    Dedham selectmen recently canceled a special Town Meeting that would have decided whether the town builds a $14 million recreation complex named Manor Fields Park on almost 25 acres of town-owned land on the Dedham-Boston line.

    The action put the ambitious plan, which included two multipurpose lighted fields, basketball and tennis courts, two dog parks, a playground, picnic tables, parking, and 1½ miles of trails, on hold for at least a year, said town recreation director Robert Stanley.

    Stanley said the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission asked selectmen to cancel the Feb. 5 meeting to allow time for a long-anticipated park and recreation master plan to be completed.

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    “We thought it would be completed by now, but it isn’t,” Stanley said.

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    Work began on the master plan about 1½ years ago, and it is intended to evaluate park and recreation needs over the next 10 to 15 years and provide a roadmap for meeting those needs. Stanley said he anticipated the master plan would be done within the next two to three months.

    He said he expected the final plan would provide more documentation of the need for additional playing fields -- and more time to garner support for the project. He added that currently the opponents “seemed more organized than the proponents.”

    “I’m personally disappointed,” he added. “As recreation director, I see the need for more fields. We are inundated [with requests] and there never seem to be enough.”

    The Manor Fields Park plan needs a two-thirds approval by Town Meeting and then a majority vote in a townwide election.

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    Officials estimate the project would cost the average property taxpayer about $85 a year over 20 years.

    Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.