Court Renovation & Multi-Sport Rink at Moxley Field Approved

CDM Smith A drawing of the approved project to renovate the basketball and tennis courts at Moxley Field and add a multi-sport boarded ice rink.

The Moxley Field area, which now has two tennis courts and a basketball court, is being renovated and one of the tennis courts will be replaced with a multi-sport ice rink.

On March 16, the city council approved the project, which has been in the queue for capital projects since fiscal 2016, city manager George Proakis said. The $1.38 million project includes the demolition and removal of the current courts and the creation of the new courts and ice rink.

Moxley Field’s lawn will be the temporary home of Watertown High School during construction of the new building. City Council President Mark Sideris said the plaza renovation and new ice rink should be completed by the fall so the high school can use the facilities.

Some councilors questioned why one of the tennis courts was removed in favor of the ice rink.

“The main reason we stuck with the multipurpose hall, rather than keeping the tennis court, was simply that multiple sports could be played there,” said assistant city manager Steve Magoon. “It can be used for futsal, it can be used for street hockey, it can be used for box lacrosse — a variety of sports and a variety of activities, as opposed to tennis courts, which in some cases are limited to tennis and pickleball.”

When the project last came before council, the issue of noise from the multi-sports ground was raised, particularly from pucks and balls hitting the boards. Councilwoman Lisa Feltner said she still had those concerns and asked how noise would be mitigated. Magoon said there will be soundproofing insulation on the back of the panels and it will be installed near a stone wall with trees on top to try to block the sound. The rink is near the corner of Westminster Avenue and Bemis Street.

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The lighting also affected local residents and city councillors. Resident Elodia Thomas wanted to ensure the lights were consistent with Dark Sky lighting, which focuses the lights only on the area, limits light shining into nearby homes and only turns on when needed.

Magoon said the council previously voted to turn off the lights at 9 p.m. Recreation Director Peter Centola said the lights would be on by then, and he doesn’t like to turn them off if nobody is using the area at, say, 8pm because someone can come out before 9am to exercise.

Councilwoman Caroline Bays asked if the lights could have a button you could press to turn them on when someone came over to use them so the lights aren’t on all the time.

Centola said communities typically don’t have these types of push-button lights for a project like this. He added that there are only four light poles, all of which need to be on to illuminate the courts and rink. Larger facilities like Victory Field have more poles, allowing areas to be isolated with only a portion of the lights.

Councilwoman Nicole Gardner said she prefers to turn off the lights when the facility is not in use because “it saves money, it’s better for nature and it’s good for the neighbors”.

“We should have a sign somewhere that says ‘Welcome to Moxley,'” Gardner said. “If it doesn’t light up because it’s been empty for an hour or two, press this button.”

The project has already been bid for, and the city will award the contract to Court Construction, which has bid $1.07 million, said Proakis, who added that the project will be right on budget when contingency and construction management costs are added.

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The council unanimously supported the project.

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