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Mendon receives grants for field lights at Memorial Park

Existing light repair could be on Town Meeting warrant 

Submitted by Mendon Parks Department

The Town of Mendon recently received a PARC (Parkland Acquisition and Renovations for Communities) grant to install lighting on Pezzella and Lowell fields at Memorial Park in Mendon. This has been a longtime dream project for us as well as the youth sports organizations. 

 The grant will award matching funds up to $100,000 with an approximately 60% match and the remainder of the project will be funded through Community Preservation Act Funds. The total budget is $220,000 with $100,000 in grant funds, $96,460 in local matching funds, and $23,540 in donations. Nipmuc Youth Baseball and Nipmuc Youth Softball have been fundraising for this project for several years and to date have raised $23,500 towards the project. 

We are in the process of writing the bid specifications and going out to bid. The project will include 6-8 poles, ideally sharing the 2 outfield poles between the fields, and LED lights. 

Additionally, as a separate project, we are working on repairs to the existing lights at the basketball and tennis courts to replace those poles and install LED lights. That request will likely be on the May town meeting warrant. Work on both projects cannot start until after July 1 and we are hoping for completion in the fall of 2024.

Lighting up these fields has been a long-standing goal for the town and the non-profit leagues who call these fields home. Nipmuc Youth Baseball and Nipmuc Youth Softball are the two primary non-profit users of these fields, and their programs serve more than 400 children in the Mendon area as well as surrounding towns. These programs have steadily grown, and registration numbers are some of the highest in the Central Mass region. Lights on these fields will increase the playable hours. 

The Parks Department has been inundated with requests for field time from area groups in addition to the local use, and the addition of lights would allow us to accommodate those requests and expand recreational opportunities in Mendon and surrounding towns. The addition of lights would allow for these fields to be considered for hosting larger regional or state tournaments, an ambition of both the baseball and softball leagues. 

This project meets several goals outlined in our newly updated Open Space and Rec Plan as well as goals identified in Mendon’s first soon-to-be-completed Master Plan. Reading through the comments from the Master Plan and OSRP surveys, the need for lighted sports fields comes up multiple times. Another topic in survey responses is the need for community gathering places. The Memorial/Veterans Park Complex has been home to several festivals over the years, including most recently, the “Rock the Block” town celebration. Adding lights to these fields would expand the available use of the facility and allow for hosting of these community events.