Merchant aims to clear up misinformation about leasing of athletic field

Published on Thursday, 24 June 2021 15:06
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

@brianjohnsonBP

At the Town Council’s meeting Thursday, Mayor David Merchant aimed to clear up misinformation being circulated on social media regarding the leasing of the town’s athletic field on Gear Drive. This field, he clarified, is a town-owned field which will be leased to the local soccer club.

“There is a lot of misinformation going around social media,” he said. “The soccer club came to us years ago to build a soccer field there but there was an issue with the community garden. Back three years ago, the garden was not maintained and it was a mess. In a compromise, we allowed them to build the soccer field if they also built a new garden. The soccer club stepped up and agreed to do so.”

Merchant said that a new garden was constructed at no cost to the town, in a space that did not conflict with the soccer field. The garden, he said, has seen wide use these past two years. Merchant credited Nate Brown, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers, for spearheading the creation of the athletic field. The Lion’s Club also donated $60,000 to put in pipes for proper drainage and the Soccer Club installed a $30,000 irrigation system. Without these systems, Merchant explained, the field would fail.

“That field was easily a $1 million job which came at no cost to taxpayers,” said Merchant.

Merchant said that leasing the field to the soccer club is being done to protect the soccer club by, in effect, making them the “primary tenant.” If other groups wish to utilize the field, he said, they will have to coordinate with the Recreation Department and the soccer club to find a time where there is no conflict.

“This is a good thing for the town and the taxpayers,” he said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Merchant said, the Town Council will lend its support to the creation of an “Enterprise Zone” similar to what Bristol has downtown.

Sen. Henri Martin, who represents both Bristol and Plymouth, previously put in a request in the legislature for Plymouth to be granted an Enterprise Zone. Seth Duke, commissioner for the Plymouth Office of Economic Development, also testified at the capitol that having an Enterprise Zone would help Plymouth to “level the playing field” with surrounding communities.

“It would allow us to offer businesses more incentives to move to Plymouth than what we can normally offer,” said Merchant. “We want to make sure that we have the same opportunity to bring businesses here.”

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Plymouth, Terryville on Thursday, 24 June 2021 15:06. Updated: Thursday, 24 June 2021 15:09.