NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 14, 2014

Removal of NHS grandstand gains support

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

(Continued)

The stadium was constructed in the mid-’30s and named the World War Memorial Stadium to mark the participation of local soldiers in World War I.

Partly because there was a patriotic theme to its creation, some community residents had opposed the demolition of the stands. Also, some ex-athletes who had played high school football there said they felt demolition would erase memories of part of their high school experience.

But numerous city officials noted that the north stands would cost more to repair than to demolish. In connection, the south stands have been refurbished and are capable of seating all those who arrive to see athletic events.

Another reason that parents and coaches sought demolition and a new field is that many more students are playing sports — especially girls, who did not have teams to try out for decades ago.

“Finding ball fields is a priority,” Holaday said at one of several public meetings. “We want youngsters to play sports and we need to provide the fields.”

One proponent who has spent more than a decade attempting to upgrade the property is former Mayor Mary Anne Clancy. She launched an initiative to improve high school facilities, which resulted in an upgrade of the south stands.

Clancy recently was a key driver in the strategy to request that the CPC commit to the project.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the CPC’s unanimous approval of funding for the stadium and field project,” Clancy said Friday.

“We still need the all-important support of the City Council before we can officially pop any champagne corks, but we are one giant step closer to having a state-of-the-art World War Memorial Stadium of which our kids, our coaches, our veterans and our community can once again be proud.”

The CPC is a municipal organization that dispenses funding for community projects involved in history, recreation, open space and/or affordable housing.

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