To the editors,
I would like to start by addressing the Bowdoin Board of Trustees.
Welcome back to campus! I imagine you will be discussing the Pickard Field project at some point during your meetings today and tomorrow. Before doing so, I urge you to take a walk to the athletic fields. Study the landscape as it exists currently before reviewing and discussing plans for the proposed redevelopment.
At your meetings, I trust you will ask good and hard questions of administrators and one another. Here are some to prime the pump if they haven’t already been discussed and debated:
What will be gained and what will be lost as a result of this project?
How will the College be better as a result of this $15 million expenditure, and what are the opportunity costs during these difficult financial times?
How are the fields being utilized currently—by athletes, non-athletes and Bowdoin and Brunswick community members?
What do the Pickard Fields mean to the College, Bowdoin alumni and the broader Brunswick community? How well-informed are members of the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities about the planned redevelopment?
What will be the impact on the environment? Which specific trees will be removed, and how many? How much grass will be lost? What will be the impact on the College’s carbon footprint? On the Mare Brook watershed?
What are the health risks associated with synthetic turf—known and unknown?
How has the need for lights changed over time, and what is driving this need? How many light towers will be erected? (Note: There are currently five light towers at Ryan Field and four that were recently added at Whittier.)
How will the character of the fields change? How will the redevelopment change the sense of place associated with Bowdoin’s identity?
Are the plans for this development project consistent with the College’s environmental mission and commitment to the Common Good?
What are other options that would enable the College to meet the needs of Bowdoin athletics (and the broader Bowdoin and Brunswick community) while preserving a natural space that is quintessentially Bowdoin?
Whatever form this project ultimately takes, I appreciate your consideration and stewardship.
Eddie Kingman writes on behalf of concerned members of the “Polar Neighbors.”