School board rejects a box for coaches
Friday, August 30, 2013
HOLLIS – The proposed coaches box the Cavalier Football Club wanted to build at Hollis Brookline High School was shot down during a meeting last week, but a new athletics facility committee was formed.
More than a dozen residents spoke at the public hearing held Aug. 21 by the Hollis Brookline Cooperative School Board regarding a proposal to erect a permanent coaches box at Lou Korcoulis Field at HBHS.
The Cavalier Football Club offered to fund and construct the coaches box to replace the existing, temporary scaffolding at no cost to the taxpayers, but neighbors opposed the plan. They said parking, access and noise issues need to be addressed first.
Eric Horton, SAU 41 business administrator, said the current scaffolding has been inspected by Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was found to be in good condition and was not deemed unsafe. However, there is a two-person limit for the scaffolding, which presents challenges during games and in inclement weather.
Steve Price spoke on behalf of the Cavalier Football Club, thanking those who came out for the discussion, and expressed his hope that in the future, there would be just one booster club to fundraise for the needs of all of the teams.
“We all are willing to come together to meet a need for the school, tax-free,” he said. “Spending a lot more money on the fields is not the way to go. This is one box, not lights, and it’s no different than dugouts or concession stands. We are the No. 1 academic school in the state and have no coaches box. This is not just for football, but track and field, too. It is for the kids to show our children that we can donate something to the community.”
In addition to a larger, safer platform for coaches to stand during the game, the box would also provide storage space underneath, which is currently in short supply. According to Dave Lynn, a coach, a portion of the budget goes to equipment replacement every year because there is not enough space for it to be properly stored.
Randy VanCoughnett, of Hollis, agreed with the other supporters of the project.
“I’ve been to 20 or 30 other football fields and I see where we fit – dead last. It is utterly an embarrassment. People look at us, that there’s no room to sit, no coaches box, they have to climb up on scaffolding. For a town that prides itself on being beautiful and such a good school, this is an embarrassment.”
Nate Frenczhalmy, a 2012 graduate of the high school, said community support is very important to student athletes.
“I can’t stress enough what a goodwill gesture this would be,” he said.
Lifelong resident Shirley Cohen was the first to speak against the proposal. She lives across from Love Lane, where there is supposed to be no parking and safety vehicles already have difficulty getting through when the field is in use. She is also concerned about wetlands, since a pond was filled when the school was built.
“It all boils down to respect and safety,” Cohensaid. She had to be reminded of the two-minute time limit and told to step down from the podium despite having more prepared remarks. Her parting comment that the she might as well go home because the board was not being fair or open-minded, which was met with cheering and applause by many in the room.
Selectman Peter Band said he was not against the box per se, and didn’t like seeing coaches standing on scaffolding, but asked that the board look closely to shape a solution that would be harmonious with the surroundings.
Hollis resident June Litwin pointed out that there will be issues that arise because of the school’s location in the middle of the historic district.
“Rather than act on free money, the taxpayers deserve to have input on how big football is to become,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with having meets at other schools who have the facilities. You need to make changes as unobtrusive as possible. Separate football items at the annual meeting (because) parents and fundraising groups always come and go.”
The time limit was waived for Christopher Lussier, whose property abuts the field. He expressed his annoyance that he was not formally notified about this meeting and only found out about it through word of mouth.
“My life is pretty much about football and track, whether I want it to be or not,” he said. “I love watching football, it’s very American. I enjoy standing on my hillside with an apple in one hand and a beer in the other … however, I would not want to live next to Stellos Stadium.”
He enjoys the Cavaliers so much he even lit off fireworks to celebrate the one night game that was played on the field last year. However, he also spoke about how he hears every play, whistle and cheer inside his house, even in the shower. When they blasted the hillside to build the field, the well at his house was rendered insufficient, and there are times when he is without water. Despite a cable across his driveway and a sign that says “Dead End, No Turnaround” Lussier has counted as many as 60 cars in one day in his driveway, which has just been repaved and he’d like to see it not get ruined again.
He finished by saying that the board should base its decision solely on what would enrich the experience of the students.
“This enriches only the adults and coaches, with no respect for traffic, trash and damage,” he said. “We see and we know that this is just one step in a multi-step agenda. I applaud your passion to do this for your kids, but please realize that in four or less years, your kids will have graduated and your passions will change. We are a town with a football program, not a football program with a town. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”
The board discussed several pertinent issues, including the fact that HBHS would not be able to host playoffs or a tournament without a proper coaches box.
In the end, the motion to approve the construction of the coaches box failed by a vote of 2-4-1, with Krista Whalen and Chad Farrow voting in favor, James O’Shea, William Beauregard, Mike Patz and Tom Solon opposed, and Gina Bergskaug abstaining.
Following the end of the public hearing, the board discussed and ultimately approved the formation of an Athletic Facilities Study Committee.