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April 14, 2014

Removal of NHS grandstand gains support

Preservation Commission recommends $1.5M bond; now goes to City Council

NEWBURYPORT — The Community Preservation Commission Thursday night voted to recommend an expenditure of $1.5 million to demolish the north stands at the high school football stadium and develop a multi-purpose athletic field on the site.

The measure will be sent to the City Council for final action.

The proposal had widespread backing of students, coaches and citizen groups, and the commission agreed to a financial plan forwarded by Mayor Donna Holaday.

That proposal requested that the funds be created through floating a bond, with the CPC standing behind the financial obligation.

The commission has used this means before; one bonded project resulted in improvements to City Hall.

”I am very pleased that the CPC voted to recommend the bonding project,” said Lise Reid, municipal parks director who will be a project manager. “It has been a long road for the city and for the Restore Our Port Pride citizens group that has been working on the project.”

It is unclear when the project can start, if approved by the council.

City officials had talked of starting in the late spring, so much of the demolition could take place in the summer when students have left the premises.

”I think that Restore Our Port Pride would love this project started tomorrow,” said Sean Reardon, a key organizer of the initiative. “But there are preparations that need to happen and we should know more after the vote of the City Council.”

The proposal involves tearing down the north stands of the football stadium at the high school, which haven’t been used in years because of their deteriorating condition.

That would enable engineers to develop a larger athletic field that would permit football, soccer and lacrosse. Organizers have called for synthetic turf, which holds up better in foul weather and heavy use.

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