Hello BYSA Families,
Since Article 10 was voted in by town meeting, the BYSA board has had many discussions and meetings on the impact that the future goals of Article 10 would have on our fields and our organization. We have met with the Town Manager, Selectmen, and new Recreation Director to discuss our concerns. Our major concerns are:
- Maintaining Playable Fields: For over 30 years BYSA have maintained our own fields and they have never looked or played better. Our field coordinators spend a lot of time and effort ensuring our players have the safest and best fields on which to play soccer, which may have the most stringent requirements for field quality of any sport. The transference of this care to the Town is a major concern of ours, especially given the current condition of the fields that are in the Town’s care, and their long history of subpar maintenance.
- Permitting: Since we have been the sole care provider for most of the soccer fields BYSA uses, Billerica Recreation has worked with us to make sure that we hold permits that allow us to use the fields when we need them the most, without competition from other users. BYSA is a large organization with up to 1,500 children playing with us at any one time, and we struggle to find available and suitable fields for our members each season. If the town permits any more organizations on our primary fields for revenue purposes, BYSA children will suffer.
- Fees: BYSA has always been proud to provide outstanding value to our members while keeping our fees at one of the lowest rates offered in the state for a youth organization. All of our fees go towards providing a robust training program, and maintaining our primary fields in tiptop shape. We are concerned with what the initial “permitting fee” will be as well as any increases in the future.
- Communication: BYSA was not initially brought in on or communicated with on the planning stages for Article 10, which will have a major impact on our organization. This lack of communication from the outset has not helped the level of suspicion and mistrust the community sports programs have towards the Town’s intentions.
The Town has met with us on several occasions to discuss and address our concerns. In these meetings they have made a commitment to partner with BYSA and the other youth organizations as this effort moves forward. They have given promises that our field time will not be interrupted on our primary fields, and they are committing to providing a maintenance program similar to the ones that we currently employ.
At this point in time the Town has not come out with a fee structure, but they also do not plan on charging the organizations until spring of 2019 (maintenance will transfer in 2018). The Town has made promises that the maintenance fee will not be more than what we currently pay third parties for the maintenance of our fields.
The BYSA board maintains a neutral stance in the upcoming election, as Article 10 is about more than just the fields. The BYSA board will cautiously trust but verify the Town’s performance throughout the process and will keep our members informed moving forward.