In the winter of 2016 Manchester Town Meeting 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 construction can start.
The new fields, located in the northeast quadrant of the Park, will be large enough to host high school, and even college teams, 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 such as Equinox Lacrosse and Manchester Youth Soccer. 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. This is Phase I of a larger plan to responsibly develop the Park. Phase II, for example, includes improvements to the baseball fields and the creation of a softball field.
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 (May, early June, September and after foliage), 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 and its fields has increased over the last several years, and the Parks and Recreation Department is constantly challenged each spring and fall to provide enough fields.
As former competitive soccer players and active youth sports coaches, we believe that youth sports serve an important purpose in children’s development, and help teach important life skills such as teamwork, leadership, discipline and perseverance. This is just one reason that we both volunteer our time outside of work as youth sports coaches.
The time is right for this project, and we are so close to the finish line. Just like you, we get a lot of requests to contribute to worthwhile causes. We also know it is easy to say that someone else will donate, but rest assured that your one-time donation, large or small, to this project will get us one step closer to building these fields this spring.
These fields will be a true game-changer. With the 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. Want to learn more and get involved? Click here to learn more about the new athletic fields at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park. Want more information? Contact Pauline Moore at (802) 362-1373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
William Brownlee, Fundraising Chair
John P. O’Keefe, Town Manager