The Open Space Committee in Ipswich, MA recently postponed a vote on how to fund athletic-field improvements after a two-hour debate. The debate centered on two different bond proposals. One proposal would alter the existing open-space bond to include improvements to existing athletic fields. The second proposal would create a new, $800,000 bond for existing athletic fields and improvements to Jack Welch Stadium and reduce the open space bond cap by $800,000. The current open space bond has a $15 million cap, with $6 million still unspent. Open Space Committee co-chairman Wayne Castonguay said the final vote would take place in two weeks. Two current selectmen and two former selectmen attended the meeting as well as School Superintendent William Hart, School Committee member Carl Nylen, and ReCreation and Culture Department director Kerrie Bates representing the Ipswich Playing Fields Committee. The debate centered on the question: Should open space money be used for the development of fields on property that was not bought with open-space funds? To do that, the Open Space Bond Authorization of 2011 would have to be amended at fall Town Meeting. The 2011 bond authorization says that a priority should be placed on finding open space suitable for playing fields. Money should be spent creating the fields. As of now, no land suitable for fields has been found. The bond authorization also limits “development and construction of athletic fields on real estate” purchased for athletic fields. Hart said that for four years, the town has looked for open space for playing fields and it hasn’t found any and urged the town to meets its “obligation to fund athletic fields.” Selectman Chairman Nishan Mootafian said “if not a dime is put toward athletic fields, then the intent of the bond will not be carried out.” The Jack Welch Stadium field as well as the Doyon School fields is in question. The stadium project to build a turf field could receive $800,000 from open-space funds and updating the Doyon fields, $200,000. The $2.32 million Welch Stadium project includes: $1.65 million for the turf field, $351,000 for the scoreboard and track timing device and $495,000 for a building to house a concession stand, locker rooms and bathrooms. Lynx System Developers has donated $275,000 toward the Welch Stadium improvements. Plans call for to installing an irrigation system and for regrading and reseeding the Doyon fields. Of the $2.32 million, a Payne Grant or a large Feoffee grant, awarded by the School Committee, would contribute $132,000, youth sports, approximately $30,000 and private donors, $910,000 By the end of the meeting, there were two competing funding proposals. One proposed by Town Manager Robin Crosbie and the other, by some members of the Open Space Committee and former selectmen Jim Engel and Pat McNally, who took part in the birth of the Open Space Bond in 2000.