To the Editor:
We are writing you with some exciting news, and to ask for your help and support. Town Meeting recently approved $75,000 to construct two new athletic fields at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park. At the same time, Burr and Burton Academy has pledged $75,000 and a private donor, Derry Taylor, has generously gifted $125,000 to the Town of Manchester for the project. Local youth sports organizations have also committed to providing funding. However, even with all of this success and generosity, we still need to raise about $100,000 before we can start construction.
The new fields, located in the northeast quadrant of the Park, will be large enough to host high school but the fields will be able to be subdivided into smaller youth fields. The fields will serve Burr and Burton Academy, Manchester Elementary Middle School and youth sports organizations. The fields will be professionally maintained by the Town's Department of Public Works, complete with irrigation. User fees have been structured to ensure that the fields will be accessible to local youth sports organizations.
The fields will also serve as an important economic development tool. Along with Applejack Field and the other fields at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, the new fields will provide the necessary facilities to host large regional tournaments. A recent study conducted by the Town of Manchester, Town of Dorset and Village of Manchester recommended that we should "leverage and promote existing sports and outdoor recreational assets to increase visitation to the Northshire Region." By scheduling tournaments during the so-called shoulder seasons the fields will help to attract visitors to Manchester during the traditionally slower months.
Beyond economic development, members of the Town's Parks and Recreation Committee unanimously agree that Manchester does not have enough athletic fields, especially good quality fields. Use of the Park has increased over the last several years, and the Parks and Recreation Department is constantly challenged each spring and fall to provide enough fields.
The time is right for this project, and we are so close to the finish line. These fields will be a true game-changer. With the recent Town Meeting vote, we have momentum and the new athletic fields are within our grasp. With your support, we hope to break ground on the new fields in early June. We hope you will join us in supporting this worthwhile and important project. More information about the project can be obtained online at www.manchester-vt.gov/fields or by contacting Pauline Moore, the Town's economic development officer, at 802-362-1313, option 5 or email@example.com.
John P. O'Keefe
Manchester Town Manager