GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 5, 2013

Manchester looks to advance MAC land deal

MANCHESTER — Following up on an offer of about 10 acres to the town, the Board of Selectmen have now formed an ad hoc committee to handle the prospective land deal that could yield new field and other recreaction facilities for Manchester.

In mid-June, John Donovan, owner of the Manchester Athletic Club offered the land to the town — with the contingence that it build a track and field on site and get the project started in a timely manner. Another stipulation to the offer is that Donovan would name the fields.

The ad hoc committee will include members from the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, the Community Preservation Committee, the Parks and Recreation and other officials as well as youth organizations in Manchester.

While officials said the offer is a generous one, there are still many factors the town has to consider.

”It’s an enormously complicated process,” said Paul Barclay, who chairs the Board of Selectmen.

Barclay said the town needs a formal letter of intent and other information from Donovan to move forward

From there, it will be up to voters to decide on whether or not to accept the deal.

Other details such as what material the fields will be if the offer is accepted also need to be discussed.

The Community Preservation Act, expanded last year to allow cities and towns to use their CPA funds to not only acquire, but to upgrade existing municipally-owned open space, nontheless prohibits CPA funding for facilities using artificial turf.

The town’s Community Preservation Committee needs to look at different ways the fields can be set up and arranged before any solid cost projections can be made, chairman Charles Kelly said.

“That’s a major decision that needs to be made, as well as others,” Kelly said.

Matt Casparius, the town’s director of Parks and Recreation and a member of the new committee, said the finer details will be ongoing throughout the summer.

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