$4.3M recreation project will stay a nail-biter until May 4; Hearing is continued despite vociferous support for measure.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

AUBURN - Auburn Little League President Victoria R. McLaughlin had been hopeful that the proposed $4.3 million recreation complex on Pakachoag Hill would be approved at the Planning Board meeting Tuesday at Town Hall.

Instead, the hearing on the project was continued to 7 p.m. May 4, despite pressure on the board from more than 200 highly vocal residents, who filled the meeting room and balcony and overflowed into the hallway.

"We are very disappointed, but I think a consensus can be reached," Mrs. McLaughlin said after the four voting members of the board deadlocked on a vote to grant conditional approval of the plan.

David P. Doherty and Philip L. Tully voted for approval, but David P. DeLollis, chairman, and Ronald E. Brooks voted no. Newly appointed member James T. Rothera was not eligible to vote.

The vote came at 9 p.m., after a half-hour caucus to allow proponents the opportunity to speak to concerns brought up by the Planning Board. Among proponents were Dr. Arthur M. Pappas and his wife, Martha R. Pappas, who have agreed to donate $1 million toward the 16-acre complex.

Dr. Pappas said yesterday, "Everyone was hopeful. We sat down and addressed all the board's concerns and uncertainties, but it wasn't enough. I'm not sure what enough is. I have to remain hopeful. At least two people voted for it. People seem very much in favor of this."

Mr. DeLollis said, "We're very close. We're not opposed to this. We just want it done safely and done right."

He said he understands the frustrations of those in a hurry to see the new fields built, but added, "Every time we've agreed to something with conditions, we've regretted it...

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