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On October 25, Milford's Town Meeting has a chance to take a big step forward in improving the athletic facilities at Milford High School and for the town itself. To miss out on this opportunity, I think would be a colossal mistake.
I remember being a member of the Milford High track team. The rubber of the track crumbled in our hands as we did stretches and dropped down into the starting blocks. The infield was typically unusable in the spring, forcing the throwers to instead use the adjacent practice fields due to slick, muddy, often torn up grass reeling from the usual April New England showers.
That was 2003. I can't say I've run the track much over the past seven years, but I can't imagine it's gotten much better.
In fact, when I spoke with MHS Athletic Director Rich Piergustavo, he reiterated the fact that the field and the complex in and of itself is in need of a renovation. It's looking like the proposal stands a good chance heading into the town meeting, with unanimous approval from the School Committee, Board of Selectmen, and Finance Committee. I certainly hope so, because staying on the cutting edge (pun somewhat intended) when it comes to fields has been anything but Milford's forte over the years.
As recently as 15 years ago, Fino Field was a crown jewel for baseball diamonds in Central Massachusetts. When we had the rare occasion to be able to play on the field with the youth baseball programs it was both a treat and a privilege. Today, Piergustavo believes he could point to a dozen fields in the area that are better than Fino, in terms of surface.
It's a problem, especially for a town that prides itself on athletic tradition as much as Milford. And that tradition is expanding, which is great. Lacrosse didn't even exist on the high school level in Milford when I was there, now it's a booming sport. Hundreds of children take part in soccer programs as well, but Milford has failed to keep up to the growth in its programs and athletics with similar growth in the quality of its facilities.
The last major upgrade to the field at Milford High was the addition of lights in the mid 1980s, a full decade before some of the current athletes using the field were born. Fino Field has added dugouts and a new concession stand, but even that isn't without issue. I credit the volunteers who worked hard to build the dugouts, but they're enormous, blocking out half the bleachers, and have a tendency to flood, leaving the teams standing on the top step or outside as often as not.
I'm not naive to think money is plentiful in these challenging economic times, but according to the people I've spoken to on the issue, the timing is right, and the money is there. As Piergustavo pointed out, "it's overly simplistic to think just because we get a new field, we won't have text books. Why did WPI just spent $15 million on a facility, because they're sending players to the NBA? It's an investment."
It's also an investment in moving the community forward. Several area towns, including Medfield, Franklin, and Hopkinton, have at least one synthetic field. It's Milford's turn. Not to mention, with a new field that could handle greater use, some of the pressure could be taken off the other fields in town.
I join Athletic Director Piergustavo and the three separate committees who have already voiced and voted their support for the proposed renovations for the high school's athletic complex. Milford's teams have always instilled a sense of pride in the school and the town as a whole. It's time to support these athletes with a facility we can all be proud of as well.




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