About 20 residents spent their Sunday afternoon touring the football fields and more at and high schools.
The walking tour, initially conceived by members of both sides of the debate over the contentious Fields of Dreams proposal, gave attendees an opportunity to see for themselves the condition of the schools' athletic facilities.
Notable in their absence were supporters of the project, which was a constant topic of conversation throughout the Sunday event. Most attendees expressed an interest in seeing the "other side" demonstrate the fields' reputed problems need by physically showing the problems and then describe in detail what would be done as part of the FOD plan.
"I originally planned to attend this tour in the hopes that people would see that nothing has been done to maintain our important facilities for many, many years except patches and quick fixes," proposal supporter Chris Joyce said. "I decided not to participate in this tour because I felt that inferior and substandard conditions would be deemed acceptable by a self-proclaimed leader."
Resident Peter Bradley did not claim any sort of leadership position, but he offered his assessment of what the walkers saw.
"Today was meant to look at the conditions at the fields, the track and the fencing," he said. "I think people would agree what we see here is not so bad that we can't repair this.
"In fact, I think the Hills is in pretty good shape and we could fix this up cleanly with better fencing for a fraction of the [estimated $4.5 million] cost. The track is in very good shape except for one or two places that might need repair. And the field, I don't think looks that bad at all. I think it could be fixed with some effort by a landscaper or someone who works with grass playing surfaces," Bradley went on. "I think we could repair this and have a good safe playing field, a good track and a good fence."
Under the proposal, artificial turf fields would replace the existing grass football fields. Proponents also suggest adding modernized lights and refurbishing or replacing the track ovals.
Concerns over financing, control and use of the facilities and quality of life effects for those who live closest to the fields are at the heart of the debate.