PROVINCETOWN — A master plan for Motta Field received positive feedback at a May 3 forum held by the recreation dept. and the design firm Weston & Sampson. In fact, things went so swimmingly that although the meeting was set for two hours it ran for just one.
The potential for noise from the planned pickleball courts was the biggest concern and voiced largely by residents of abutting Alden Street and Seashore Point, where there are condominiums for seniors as well as a skilled nursing facility.
At the hearing, nine-month Seashore Point resident Mimi Friedman exemplified the feedback: she was very excited about the field for the town and said, “Everyone’s gonna love it — except the abutters.”
Cheri Ruane, vice president of Weston & Sampson and the lead designer on the project, mentioned in her presentation that the new plan “put the pickleball as far away as possible from Seashore Point and Alden Street” by tucking the courts into a slope with plantings on it.
A swimming pool is not part of the plan. While many community members asked about adding one at the Feb. 8 public meeting, Recreation Director Brandon Motta quashed those dreams at the outset at the May 3 session. “This is not the appropriate space or facility” for a pool, he said, citing costs, footprint, and the lack of needed outdoor recreational space elsewhere in town.
The updated plan, which pulls together reactions to the two draft plans presented on Feb. 8, will place one designated tennis court, two designated pickleball courts, and two tennis-pickleball hybrid courts along the Pilgrim Monument side of the field behind a six-foot retaining wall. Much of the square footage will remain devoted to recreation that requires wide open space, with a 300-by-210-foot soccer field overlapping a baseball diamond, all surrounded by a four-lane 400-meter track. The design hews more closely to “Scheme 2” presented in February, which had the same dimensions, with shuffleboard and bocce facilities moved to an area outside of the track loop.
New to the plan are designated exercise and play spaces between the racket sport courts and the track as well as a picnic grove next to a community plaza, which will be shaded and accessible.
People asked for more exercise opportunities, Ruane said, and her team is looking at “some really hardy equipment that has a good survival rate in Cape Cod communities.”
A dual zipline and a rotating net climber — “super unique pieces” that aren’t redundant with the town’s existing playgrounds and community center facilities, Ruane said — are planned for the play area. The adjusted skate park plan also fits in all the features requested in a letter with more than 1,000 signatures submitted by the local skate community, Ruane said.
The multiuse service building along Winslow Street will have a concession stand and two gender-neutral bathrooms. And next to it, the entrance honoring the memory of Manuel Motta, who grew up in Provincetown and died in action in the Korean War in 1950, will be spruced up into a Memorial Gateway. Manuel would have been Brandon’s great-uncle.
Between the February and May public meetings, the town stakeholder working group met five times, Ruane said in an email. The group included two recreation commission members, John Golden of the select board, one board of health member, Provincetown IB Schools Supt. Gerry Goyette, three abutters, and one Seashore Point representative, according to Brandon Motta.
Goyette said he “advocated heavily” for a track in the review process. Partly he had the school’s needs in mind: “It’s a draw to have a sports program, and track and field is a great spring sport that brings lots of kids out to try different things,” he said. But also, he added, “A track is a really important piece for a lot of seniors.”
After Ruane presented the plan, she fielded questions mostly about pickleball sound mitigation. Bill Docker, who lives on Mechanic Street near the West End pickleball courts on Nickerson, was concerned about sound bouncing off the retaining wall and requested that an “audio plantologist, if there is such a thing, be brought onto the team at some point.”
Others asked about noise-controlling panels and acoustic engineers and mentioned courts elsewhere on the Cape that were tied up in litigation because of noise pollution. Falmouth, for example, was recently embroiled in a battle over pickleball courts at the Lawrence School before approving $220,000 at town meeting to design new courts in a more forested area.
Terry Klein, an Alden Street abutter, said that “vegetation has been shown not to be the most effective noise mitigation strategy.” If the plan goes forward with the courts, Klein said, audio consulting should be considered a “budget requirement.”
“Noise mitigation for pickleball is an important consideration to ensure the park is a success and improves the current conditions,” Ruane said in an email. But at the meeting, she also said that the best available noise mitigation tactics, opaque vertical panels, would pose a safety concern for the shared-use field.
Weston & Sampson is submitting a final report to the town on this conceptual plan, which will include a cost estimate, in the coming weeks, according to Ruane. Next is the final design phase, where engineering details and park elements like benches and plantings are addressed. Following that report, town officials can move to discussing potential funding sources, Motta said.
Underneath it all, Motta Field has already been approved as the site of a 1.6-acre leaching field. It’s part of the $75-million sewer expansion project that passed at special town meeting in November 2022. The potential leaching field construction dates will be considered in scheduling the above-ground project, and cross-department coordination is in the works, according to Motta and DPW Director Jim Vincent.
Motta also said in a February interview that the goal is to get a funding request for the Motta Field project on the 2024 town meeting warrant, putting the earliest estimated construction start date in 2025.