The Amesbury Soccer Association (ASA) proposes a new strategy to realize a longstanding vision to improve soccer fields for the enjoyment of the town and visiting teams; the safety of the players, referees, coaches and families; and to preserve and protect the fields in our community.
THE PROBLEM: WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED
Woodsom Farm comprises some 350+ acres of town-owned land that has been responsibly utilized by the ASA and those participating in its programs. Woodsom Farm also doubles as home to many other recreational activities including dog-walking, hiking, horseback riding, bird studies, races, even scale rocket launches and reenactments, as well as some agricultural uses.
Currently, the ASA uses and maintains seven fields at Woodsom Farm, in addition to utilizing space at Cashman Elementary School, Amesbury Middle School and Amesbury Sports Park.
The seven Woodsom Farm fields are sprawled out and just that, farm fields. They have never been graded, no proper drainage system has ever been installed and in some areas, the fields are quite sloped—all factors that are detrimental to playing soccer.
The turf on the fields is hard to maintain due to this lack of irrigation. There are also significant divots, pet waste, holes and rocks. In short, the land was never developed or prepared for recreational play; the compacted ground can potentially contribute to impact injuries to the children, and the grass does not meet the standards of sports fields prevalent today.
VISION – WHAT WE’RE LOOKING TO DO
The ASA, in partnership with the City of Amesbury, proposes to relocate and consolidate the playing fields we are currently using to a single, safer, properly pitched and drained designated area in the Northeast corner of the park. This dedicated sports field would comprise approximately 10 acres of land, reducing the total area used today as soccer fields, and cutting down the number of current abutting residences from four houses to one.
This consolidation will allow the dedicated sports fields to be graded, properly drained and irrigated. ASA will expand maintenance to include seeding, irrigation management, aeration and field rotation, with two wells being added in order to achieve this. Use of the fields will largely remain the same, but the consolidation in the Northeast corner will isolate the use from other recreational activities. It is recommended that pets be restricted from the improved fields to comply with city leash laws and to reduce pet waste issues. We feel this segmentation is a beneficial and improved arrangement that will leave well over 300 acres of land open to other recreational activities to go unimpeded by soccer-related activities and vice versa.
Our proposal, that the fields be restricted to soccer use only, is to preserve the fields and support sporting standards, but is also due to our programs’ running time—which is all year round while outdoor play is possible. No additional acreage is being requested. The ASA intends to bear the costs associated with this project through fundraising, and will keep the total cost to the city to a minimum, leveraging grants and other non-taxpayer funded financing.
THE BENEFITS: WHY THERE’S NOTHING TO LOSE
- Preservation of field space for the community
- Improved educational opportunities in playing and learning about soccer
- Increased hosting opportunities for tournaments and improved civic pride when hosting area towns for travel soccer
- Stimulated economic activity in Amesbury for soccer-specific activities and tournaments
- Increased safety for all