Editorial: Now or never
If you have strong feelings about an artificial turf field replacing the grass field at Middlebrook Middle School, now is the time to speak up. For or against, there will not be another opportunity to have your say on this project. There are many pros and cons to an artificial turf field, some of which are outlined in a story on page 1A.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will continue a public hearing on the special permit application at its meeting Monday, July 13. A group of youth sports associations received the go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen last year and cleared the project with the Inland Wetlands Commission. It is now before Planning and Zoning. If the commission approves the project, supporters need only obtain a building permit and site plan approval.
This is not a capital bonding project. There will be no town meeting and no vote. The field is being paid for with private money, but the upkeep will fall to the Parks and Recreation Department. The field will likely need to be replaced within the next eight to 10 years, and who will pay for that is not clear. The applicants’ attorney, Casey Healy of Gregory and Adams, said there has been a discussion with the Board of Selectmen regarding the replacement of the turf in the future “with a portion of the replacement cost being privately funded.”
In an email to The Bulletin, First Selectman Bill Brennan said any approved project would require an agreed-upon formula that would enable funds for eventual replacement of the field, when it was time to replace it.
This is a vital component of the project.
Wilton’s two existing turf fields — Fujitani Field and Kristine Lilly Field — were both gifts to the town, but no replacement funding was put in place and they are nearing the age when that will become an issue.
Brennan said the town is researching the issue and “we will eventually have a comprehensive summary of various approaches by municipalities that are being used to resolve the replacement cost issue. “
The cost of installing the artificial turf field is expected to be in the area of $1.2 million. If all goes according to the applicants’ plans, construction would begin next summer.