Daly Field Update

February 12, 2015

A Message from President Helen Drinan

As we settle into the spring semester, I want to update you on the status of our proposal to renovate and lease Daly Field in Brighton through an innovative public/private partnership that will benefit not only Simmons, but also many of our neighbors in Boston, Allston, and Brighton. 

As part of Strategy 2015, the project is vital to the continued strength of our athletics programs. It will help to boost the visibility and quality of our athletics programs, and to raise our profile as an institution of higher education.

First, a bit of background. For many years Simmons College Athletics had used playing fields at the adjacent Winsor School. As our agreement with Winsor was ending, Simmons was approached in 2011 by community members in Allston and Brighton who were looking for a partner to help them renovate and refurbish Daly Field, a public field that has been in disrepair for more than 20 years.

In August 2012, State Representative Michael Moran from Brighton and State Senator William Brownsberger from Belmont (whose district includes Allston and Brighton), secured passage of legislation that gives Simmons the opportunity to fund significant renovations, and which will allow us to lease this property from the state. The planned upgrades will result in state-of-the-art facilities for Simmons Athletics, as well as for Brighton High School, Allston-Brighton Little League, and for the public at large.

You will see below left, an image of Daly Field today; on the right is an image of the extensive improvements planned for the field.

Daly Field comparison

All in all, we feel strongly that this is a win-win proposition for all partners involved. Further, this kind of creative community partnership has shown to be a successful model before. In recent years, Emerson College paid for renovations to The Field at Rotch Playground near Albany Street, in the South End, and negotiated a 99-year lease for their athletic programs. Much closer to home, Emmanuel College renovated Roberto Clemente Field (directly across the street from Simmons) through an agreement that benefitted not only the public and Emmanuel, but also Boston Latin School, which uses the field for its sports teams’ games and practices under a 99-year lease.

As with any legislation, the Daly Field matter has had multiple layers of regulatory and community review, including at least 11 public hearings. Throughout the entire four-year process, Simmons has addressed concerns raised by the public. We believe we are nearing the end of this process and hope to begin construction later this year.

This past November, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued the final permit for the project, the Chapter 91 Waterways License. However, a final hurdle still remains in the form of an appeal of that license by the Charles River Watershed Association. We are working hard to ensure the appeal does not delay breaking ground.

I agree philosophically that public land should be maintained with public funds for public use. However, the reality is that the many priorities of state spending, coupled with a crushing state budget deficit, have not allowed for the proper maintenance of Daly Field for many years, and public funds will not be available in the foreseeable future.

As the public process plays out, we remain poised and committed to achieving this goal. This project exemplifies the innovative nature of Simmons College and provides a wonderful example to our community of how an institution can do well by doing good.

Helen Drinan formal signature