On Wednesday, July 21 the town held its first meeting at Edison Intermediate School for the general public to discuss the Edison Fields Project, following a public invitation by Mayor Brindle, “I look forward to hearing from residents, athletic leagues, and other user groups to help us shape the best path forward.” The meeting was well attended, well conducted and everyone who wished to speak had the opportunity. Hopefully, everyone saw that the residents of the Edison School neighborhood – many with current or past child athletes – see the need for additional fields as much as anyone else, just not the equivalent of seven, lighted football fields dropped into a residential neighborhood with major field development already.
The neighbors do not see this as or want this to be a binary choice – the proposed Edison field project or no new fields. This is the fields proposal for the entire town of Westfield, not just this neighborhood. Multiple additional locations for field development should be considered, including Roosevelt, with substantial available acreage, the Memorial Pool area, with substantial underutilized parking for most of the year, and numerous other locations. Town unity for this project is a worthwhile goal and we have not learned why everything in this one neighborhood makes sense. In fact, learning that nearly $5 million of this $18 million project is to replace existing Edison baseball/softball field areas with artificial turf because of the scale of the rest of the project at Edison is troubling. Only roughly 250,000 square feet of the total 400,000 square foot project is brand new playing areas when all is put there.
Furthermore, playing field resources might be able to be increased at a faster pace with improved fields in a few neighborhoods as opposed to a massive sports complex in one neighborhood. This could include smaller scale field development at Edison, consistent with already existing parking, traffic and stormwater runoff challenges; and clearly permitting Edison school children to continue to have recess and play access to a safe, ambient temperature grass field instead of sometimes very hot artificial turf (if turf access would be allowed at all).