Finance Committee Recommends Approval for Artificial Turf and, Disapproval for School Way

The wide-open space at the intersection of School Way, Elm Street and Maple Street

By Karen Bragaw

At their November 1 meeting, the Bedford Finance Committee (FinCom) voted on two key articles. They recommended approval for Article 4 at Special Town Meeting— an artificial turf-playing surface at Sabourin football field, and voted against approval of Article 9, the School Way Municipal complex reconstruction.

Although the final vote for Article 4 of 7 for/2 against was not unanimous, the feeling of the majority was that the field improvement was necessary. “Sports are one of the key elements that make this a community,” said committee member Richard Bowen. “There is an emphasis on getting kids off the couch and onto the playing field.”

“I am clearly opposed,” said member Bob Kenney. “I find this to be just a small group backing recreation….It should be the absolute lowest priority in town.”

I’ve changed my point of view on this to support it,” said member Meredith McCulloch, “because I think if you’re going to have the program, this is the best way to support it. If we’re going to have the program, this is the best way to provide what’s needed.”

There followed a discussion about how the field would be maintained in the future. Community Preservation funds can be used for every part of the original field except the playing surface or “rug,” which it is estimated would need to be replaced every 10 to 12 years. At this time, Community Preservation rules specify that its funds cannot be used for this purpose.

Barbara Perry, FinCom liaison to the Capital Expenditures Committee (CapEx), noted that CapEx narrowly defeated the recommendation for approval of artificial turf, with a final tally of 4 against and 3 in support of the article.

FinCom did not recommend approval for Article 9, a bond authorization for construction and repairs to the municipal complex. At issue was whether the shared Town Hall and Town Center parking lot should be considered outside the CapEx priority evaluation process. CapEx recommendations are voted on at Annual Town Meeting in the spring.

“I think this is an emergency, this road is in terrible condition…it is a real safety concern” said McCulloch. Comments from other FinCom members noted that combining the parking lot with possible safety issues on School Way was not the best approach, and they wondered if the project should not be at the top of the DPW list.

The Finance Committee’s recommendations on all 13 articles under consideration will be noted at the upcoming Special Town Meeting, on November 13th. To read more about FinCom’s discussions and earlier deliberations on Special Town Meeting articles, visit:

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