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Portsmouth council OKs $3.4m for rec fields

Union Leader Correspondent

July 10. 2018 2:04AM
The city council in Portsmouth showed strong support for new multi-purpose artificial turf fields during their meeting Monday night. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH — The city council in Portsmouth at its meeting Monday unanimously approved a $3.4 million bond for the construction of multi-purpose public recreational fields.

According to Recreation Director Rus Wilson, who also serves as the school system’s athletic director, the total cost of adding four artificial turf fields on 52 acres of land sold to the city by Community Campus is projected to be $10 million.

Wilson said they already have $1.6 million for new recreational fields because the city council approved the funding when there was talk of adding a field at the former stump dump site. They needed an additional $3.4 million to pay for parking, lighting and the first two fields.

During a public hearing before the vote, State Rep. Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, D-Portsmouth, said the city lost fields when Pease Tradeport was redeveloped decades ago. She recommended completing the project now.

City Manager John Bohenko said the construction market is hot now and costs are higher than they may be in coming years.

Officials are hopeful a generous donor or business will come forward to pay for the fields as part of a naming opportunity.

“We’d love to see them done all at once,” Bohenko said.

Mayor Jack Blalock agreed, saying a naming opportunity is a chance for someone in the community to be remembered for their contributions.

After the vote, Wilson said thousands of people use Portsmouth’s fields. There are programs for children as young as 3 and leagues for people who are in their 60s.

Due to the lack of space on current fields, these athletes leave Portsmouth to play sports, Wilson said.

“Now everyone will be able to stay in town,” Wilson said.

Outdoors Local and County Government Portsmouth

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