The group on Wednesday night heard from site consultant Ben Gary, who gave five options of how the field project could proceed.
Selectmen chose the cheapest option, which Gary said will also be the least risky for the cave.
Devil’s Den is a rock formation on a hill behind the high school. Workers in February damaged part of the cave during construction of the $5 million high school athletic complex.
The damage angered many residents, since officials in the past had promised that the den would be preserved. Many say the den is historic and should be preserved as a local landmark.
The option selectmen chose to save the cave will cost $67,000, Gary said, and includes an 18-foot rock slope below the cave. It also involves moving the walkway 10 feet away from the den and modifying the grandstand so it won’t be as close to the cave.
There will also be a 6-foot safety area around the cave, in case rocks fall.
Selectmen gave Gary approval to proceed with that option, pending review by the Planning Board.
The Planning Board last night accepted the plan, with the condition that the Historical Commission find a better way to secure the den than the 6-foot fence architects proposed.
“That’s going to look kind of weird and ugly,” said Chairman David Foster. “We’re not happy with that fence.”
Gary said it will be at least two weeks before work begins. But he said work must start again soon.
Selectmen questioned Gary about the plan’s safety and the possibility that more unforeseen costs will arise.
“What other contingencies are going to come up?” Chairman Jon Fetherston asked.
Gary said workers will need up to $20,000 for some electrical work, as well as about $14,000 to put a school logo on the complex.
Assistant Town Manager Mark Purple said the project’s budget still has about $350,000 to use for unexpected circumstances.
Grandstands aren’t part of the field project, and officials said they hope to build them in the future.
Gary said the cave could still be damaged, but they will cover it with a rubber blanket during blasting and blast more gently in that area.
“There’s a possibility that the blast will disturb it,” Gary said.
Selectmen asked several members of the field study committee who were at the meeting if they wished to call a meeting to review the options.
But members Mark Juitt and Steve Greenberg said they and Chairman Dave Barrett agree that the board’s choice was the best option.
Gary said neighbors will be notified of the changes. He said the board can choose whether to notify state historical officials of the change.
Source: MetroWest Daily News