Having been born and raised in Hingham, I feel the same obligation to help develop our young people as our parents demonstrated in raising us. Learning important life lessons through participation in sports is an important part of growing up for many kids. Certainly, sports play a vital role in our community serving youth through high school athletes. My own children have benefitted greatly from involvement in Hingham’s sports programs over the years. I think the town should continue to encourage and facilitate school and club sports as best it can.
In particular, I believe the town has the responsibility to maintain and bear the cost of maintenance of its entire capital infrastructure. This means the town should fund the repair and ongoing maintenance of playing fields, tennis courts, and the running track so that school and club teams can play scheduled events without having to relocate, postpone or cancel due to flooding or disrepair. Citizens and athletes should be able to take pride in Hingham’s sports facilities.
In that spirit, I supported the High School Fields Improvement Project article at last fall’s Special Town Meeting, and I continue to support that initiative. This endeavor has not been without controversy, and will require strong leadership to find the appropriate balance between the needs of the town, interests of various sports groups and concerns of neighboring residents. I am ready to assume this leadership role along with my fellow selectmen and other community leaders to ensure the project is completed. Too much time has passed without action while our facilities have deteriorated and our athletes have been exposed to injury.
When the study recommendations are brought before the Board of Selectmen, I intend to support town funding of improvements to the existing field infrastructure. If artificial turf, lights or other features are recommended, I will listen in a fair and open-minded fashion to all citizen input about the pros and cons of including those attributes and I would hope to explore a partnership with private individuals and entities to help offset the total cost of constructing and maintaining the resulting facilities. We have a responsibility to taxpayers who are already struggling in a challenging economy to produce a fiscally prudent and cost-effective asset of which we all can be proud.
Lastly, I believe the proposed high school project is only one step in a much needed town-wide effort to develop a strategy to help preserve our athletic assets, providing appropriate restoration and maintenance, so that they remain valuable and enjoyable for many years to come.
I hope this expression of good faith on my part is sufficient for the Hingham sports and recreation community to support my candidacy for re-election. I look forward to continuing as your Selectmen for another term and would greatly appreciate your support and vote on April 28, 2012.
Sincerely, John A. Riley