HIGHAM — Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Director of Recreation Mark Thorell are pleased to announce that the Town of Hingham has seen extremely positive results from a town-wide Turf Maintenance Plan that was implemented last year.
During a presentation at a Select Board meeting last month to review the Recreation Department’s FY2023 budget, Director Thorell highlighted how the fields in Hingham have benefitted from the new plan, which centralizes field maintenance and restructured the turf maintenance budget.
As part of the new plan Hingham Rec now permits and schedules all town fields and courts, which consists of 37 fields at 16 locations, 28 tennis courts at six locations, and 10 basketball courts at seven locations. Every permit from every sports organization in the community is scheduled and uploaded into the Town’s comprehensive Rec Software, where the public has the ability to view open time slots at every field, helping to create efficiency and transparency in the permitting and scheduling process.
The Rec Department manages and oversees the athletic field turf maintenance for all 68 acres worth of town athletic fields. For FY2022, the newly funded budget was $381,180, of which $241,180 was funded by the Town, $40,000 was transferred from the School Department budget to the turf maintenance budget, and $100,000 was collected in user fees.
“The new turf maintenance budget was the result of a total team effort both from the sports community and Town officials,” Director Thorell said. “It took buy-in from every sports organization to agree to a whole new fee structure, which resulted in higher rates. Everyone across the board was cooperative, understanding and flexible as we moved forward with this new budget structure.”
Managing the town’s athletic field turf maintenance consists of the scheduling and oversight of field applications, irrigation, utilities, infield grooming and renovations, seeding, top dressing, aerating and a variety of other field services. Several athletic field staff members have recently been hired, and the turf maintenance program has been well received by the sports community.
“We are very confident that we will be able to continue to improve the overall playing conditions at all fields in town moving forward,” Director Thorell said. “We are very pleased with the results, and are especially happy that those who use the fields on a regular basis have been pleased with the results as well.”
Director Thorell presented before-and-after images to members of the Select Board at the recent presentation, as well as feedback they have received. One example of the work and impact of the Turf Maintenance Program that was cited was Cronin Field, which is a primary athletic field located behind the Recreation Department on Central Street. The turf quality and beautification was recently applauded by the President of Hingham Little League in an email to the Rec Department.
Other examples given of the Turf Maintenance Program being put to good use included:
- Haley Field and Lynch Field, which have had new infield mix installed, baselines edged, and the home plate areas and the pitchers mounds rebuilt to proper size and specifications
- Foster and South School baseball/softball fields, which have seen a dramatic difference including both infields having fully-grown vegetation removed and completely groomed and edged out (crews will return in the spring to continue this work for the upcoming season)
- All of the multipurpose “rectangular” fields in town, including those used for football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and other sports, which have been aerated and seeded multiple times
“We are thrilled to see the immediate results of this program, and it is clear from how great the fields look that the Rec Department has made great strides since it was put into place,” said Select Board member Liz Klein. “We commend Director Thorell and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to recreation programming in town and look forward to seeing the benefits of this program for years to come.”
A recording of the Jan. 13 Select Board budget presentation can be found on the Town’s Harbor Media YouTube page. Director Thorell’s presentation begins at the 41:48 mark.