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Athletic Fields Inching Closer To Referendum

The Stonington Athletic Fields Task Force presented the Boards of Finance and Selectmen with four options for the town athletic fields.

Artificial turf athletic fields may be coming to Stonington as early as next year. At a joint meeting of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance the presented four options for the fields.

The Boards of Finance and Selectmen didn’t make any decisions on what if any option to recommend sending to a town meeting and then referendum, but the option that appeared the most popular includes transforming Donald E. Palmer Field at into an artificial turf field and then repairing the softball, boys soccer, field hockey and the all-purpose fields.

“Building one or more synthetic turf fields would fill the needs of the town quickly,” Athletic Fields Task Force Chairman Paul Sartor said.

The plan which Sartor called option three would cost about $2.5 million that Stonington residents would need to approve to bond during a referendum vote that could happen as early as October 17.

Sartor said that in coming up with their recommendations the looked at the condition of the fields, their uses and needs and also looked at the tennis and basketball courts.

The first option the Athletic Fields Task Force presented was the doing nothing option, the second option was repairing the softball, boys soccer, field hockey, football and all-purpose fields for about $1.2 million. The fourth option would build two artificial turf fields and repair the other fields for a cost of about $4.5 million.

According to Sartor if built an artificial turf field would last for about 10 to 15 years. If the town decides to stay with grass fields Sartor said the town would need about four or five new fields to play on due to the volume of use. One of the main problems with that Sartor said is that the town doesn’t have the land for four or five new fields.

“Most people would rather play on natural grass if they could, but one of the advantages is during the winter time the turf is always soft,” Sartor said.

Before sending the measure to a town meeting and referendum the Board of Finance wanted the town, task force and schools to come up with a plan to manage the fields.

Board of Finance Chairman Glenn Frishman said he wanted to make sure if the taxpayers voted to bond money for the fields that their investment was protected.

First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr., said he would work with the Board of Finance, Athletic Fields Task Force, and school administration to outline how the fields would be overseen and maintained.

“The committee worked great together, they’re a great group of people,” Sartor said.

The Board of Finance plans to meet again on the fields on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

At the meeting the Board of Finance also voted to appoint June Strunk to the board to fill the .

Teg September 06, 2012 at 10:25 AM
This is ridiculous! Why do the whOle community have to pay for a privilege only a few can enjoy? Where is the equal share of money to the arts and music? Sports used to play a positive role in the education of the young, not the focus has shifted and the kids are way to privileged
Curt September 06, 2012 at 10:59 AM
East Lyme has approved and Waterford has planned to install astro turf. The regional sales person has done a good job selling towns on this for sure.
Deborah Dempsey September 06, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I am so proud of our town for taking action. After driving to all the fields in our town and schools evaluating the drainage issues, the lack of grass on the fields from overuse. We will finally be able to have safe fields for our kids to play sports on and not have to have Stonington School and recreation teams go to other towns to play sports such as soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football, baseball, softball and such. This is one way to guarantee that our children will want to come back and raise their families here. By not supporting fixing our fields and investing in more field access our kids, families and community will continue to fall behind Groton, Westerly, Waterford and the surrounding towns. At the Stonington field task force meeting preliminary estimations for cost would be $22 per year per household whose home was evaluated for $250,000. For $22 a year we can ensure this generation and the future generations of kids have safe fields that can be maintained. As our school budgets have been cut the field maintenance/staff has been cut over the years as well. Please support our schools and town and help us get our fields fixed, maintained and allow more access to fields for our teams.
Dannyboy September 06, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Deborah, I agree with all of your post. Athletics is a big part of the community and the growth and development of the youth. The task force has done a great job. As far as Teg's post: Not even worth commenting on. WOW.
Teg September 06, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Realy? It's fair to cut EDUCATION so that a few can play sports? Back in the day a patch of grass was all that was needed to play sports, now we want to spend MILLIONS on fields? Priorities! And when mill rates in stonington goes up up with no end insight then we are going to see stable real estate prices right? Check out Fairfield county.
Jay S September 06, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Teg, I believe at least 75% or more of the High School kids are involved in sports. I call that more than a few.
parent September 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM
I wouldn't call it a "few" play sports. Lacrosse alone has about 200 kids grades 3-8. It is embarrassing to host home games when we have no home field, and the field we do have is torn up!!!
Virginia McCormack September 06, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Teg, a patch of grass will no longer suffice. So many more kids are playing soccer, football, lacrosse, hockey - you name it. These fields are taking a beating. The earlier our kids start playing, the better. They need to learn how to function as member of a team. This is a critical part of their education if they are going to succeed after they graduate. My kids have been out of the Stonington school system for ten years, but we still support the schools and the athletic programs available to Stonington students.
Teg September 06, 2012 at 01:35 PM
All while we cut the ACADEMIC budgets
parent September 06, 2012 at 01:39 PM
@teg, talk about education, Really.... Not "realy"
Christina September 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Great post, Deb. Although I would also like to see arts, music, and academics see an increase in funding, the athletic fields in Stonington are an embarrassment compared to every other town, and something must be done. With obesity creeping higher with our children, the time is NOW to encourage kids to get involved in sports. In addition, with better fields, the access to sports will be better and easier for Stonington students and their families.
Virginia McCormack September 06, 2012 at 03:49 PM
And that's terrible, too. More parents should turn out and vote on all these referendums. When fewer than 20% vote, the result does not exactly reflect the "will of the people."
Ashlee Allard September 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I think as opposed to looking only at the up fri t costs. The log term maintenance and life of the fields needs to be considered which could end up being substantially greater over a 15 year period. Additionally it affords other non high shook sponsored sports teams to play on these fields, which promotes Stonington through out the Eastern ct coast. Stonington hosted an AAU baseball tournament this summer and it was embarrassing the conditions of the fields. That becomes the face of the town to those visiting us. We need our children to be proud of where they live and where the go to school

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