Wellesley track & field lighting update

Following a flurry of public meetings earlier this year discussing the possibility of lights at the Wellesley High track & field complex, progress is being made on a number of fronts, according to an update provided by School Committee Chair Linda Chow during this past week’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting (see Wellesley Media recording, about 20 minutes in).

Chow began by reminding the NRC and public that what the School Committee and School Department are looking at actually involved three projects: Restrooms, team rooms, and lights.

lighting project

The renewed efforts on these projects began with getting a good handle on requirements, Chow said. Money for the bathrooms and team rooms was approved at Town Meeting three years ago, but it turned out the funds wouldn’t cover the projects, leaving them at a standstill.

A big breakthrough on the bathrooms, Chow says, is shifting away from an original plan for 29 stalls, and reducing that greatly based on research on how similar communities have handled this resource. The Department of Public Works has partnered with an engineering consultant for sizing and placement of the bathrooms, and the town should be able to work with the same vendor supplying the new aqueduct bathroom in an effort to streamline the process. Funding is available for this project.

The School Department has worked with the NRC to settle on a layout, which would support some 60 lockers. Coming up with a cost estimate is next.

As for the track and field lighting proposal, the Playing Fields Task Force’s Lighting Subcommittee report from 2019 has been revisited and the School Department is reviewing Newton South’s lighting  usage (and sound) policy as well, with plans to brief the School Committee on Tuesday, May 11. Chow noted that Wellesley would keep sound and light policies separate. The review team plans a site visit to Newton South at night.

The School Committee would plan to coordinate with the DPW to reach out to Wellesley High stadium neighbors, and hold a community forum as well. If all goes well, a proposal focused on the team rooms and lighting would be brought forth to the full School Committee and the NRC by the end of this month, Chow said. Fundraising for the projects could begin by summer.