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February 4, 2014

Veterans memorial may be part of stadium plan

NEWBURYPORT — City leaders are pressing forward with their initiative to demolish the north stands at the World War Memorial Stadium at the high school, and are considering creating an area to be dedicated to veterans of U.S. wars.

“It’s early but we will talk about a memorial to honor veterans,” said Mary Anne Clancy, a former mayor who has been a key driver over the last decade in renovating the stadium.

Mayor Donna Holaday said, “It’s one thing that we can think about. This will take a lot of planning, and recognition of veterans is one thing that can be discussed.”

Last week Holaday asked the Community Preservation Committee to consider generating $1.5 million to be used as part of a project to demolish the north stands of the stadium, built in the late 1930s.

Holaday said the space can be used for the expansion and development of all-purpose fields for sports like soccer and lacrosse, as well as football.

Though the loss of baseball diamonds on the property of the Bresnahan Elementary School prompted a search for open land for ball fields, city officials say that a baseball diamond is not foreseen in the footprint of the north stands.

Land at Bradley Fuller Field on Low Street was being considered for baseball. But that option may have been ruled out because a baseball field would make it difficult to host events such as track and field, and soccer, according to city officials.

Some Newburyport residents are upset by the mayor’s plan to demolish the north bleachers.

Tom Flaherty, who graduated from the high school in the 1960s, said he is opposed to dismantling part of the stadium.

“I know there are not many natives left in Newburyport,” Flaherty said, “but that stadium was the best in the whole region. What a slap in the face to the individuals who worked hard to leave a beautiful stadium for all to enjoy.”

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