Contractors to assess full damages to Wilton Veteran Memorial Stadium

WILTON — Three contractors will be inspecting the high school stadium in the coming days after remnants of Hurricane Ida severely damaged parts of it, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce said Wednesday.

The issues stemmed from a major overflow of infill in the area behind the home bleachers. This was an issue that plagued various areas of the Wilton High School campus and even parks across town.

As for damages to the high school, Pierce detailed less serious occurrences to Northfield and to Kristine Lilly Soccer Field, contending that it was not “too substantial.”

“If that was all that happened, I would have been very happy,” Pierce said. “But the stadium, which we had just cleaned out behind the stadium, filled with debris and brought a lot of silt and sand down.”

The overflow flooded the stadium turf and the brand new $973,300 Wilton High School track replacement project, which was completed and unveiled in August.

“It flooded the stadium and the new track quite severely, like something I’ve never seen down there before,” Pierce said. A similar issue arose in 2008, Pierce recalled, but not to the magnititude that his department is dealing with now.

To address this issue, Pierce is calling upon the various contractors who helped build and maintain the separate aspects of Wilton Veterans Memorial Stadium. He hopes they will be able to identify possible solutions quickly.

First, the Boston-based Stantec will be hired. Stantec designed the stadium and provided help in the track resurfacing project as well. They will be providing a drainage assessment to the town and will work with Pierce to have mitigation strategies set in place for future storms.

Next, Shaw Sports Turf will come in to remove the silt and sand from the turf field they designed and laid down for Wilton High School. Shaw has extensive experience with professional and collegiate-level turf fields. They will be co-contracting with another company to aid in the cleanup for Wilton.

Lastly, Cape and Island will be brought back to address the track that the company completed just weeks ago. They will be cleaning the surfacing of the track, as well as clearing out the drain basins that run parallel to the running lanes.

Pierce said his department does not have the expertise, manpower or operating budget to handle these types of repairs alone. He will be speaking with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice about a budget request to deal with repair costs as the contractors come to look at the stadium.

Officials are looking into whether part of the cost could be covered by insurance or under warranty.

A major fear of the Parks and Recreation Commission is that silt may have been lodged and caught underneath the turf field. Commission member John Macken said that this could “potentially block draining” of the field as originally designed.

He said the field’s surface level already raised roughly six inches since the storm.

Then there are the issues of the displacement of infill, which needs to be replaced, drainage of the catch basins and the removal of debris from the field and track. One area of the track had accumulated so much sand that Pierce said it “looked like the Sahara Desert.”

Sand and coconut husk were the two types of infill displaced in the storm. Pierce said they should be able to replace the infill with some supply in Georgia, but must first clean up the field and determine how much is needed.

Pierce believes one issue to be overflow from an intermittent water course behind the stadium, but he is waiting for further assessment. He was very pleased with the timeliness of all three contractors in their desire to deal with the issues the town is facing.

“We are very blessed to have the reaction time from all three vendors,” he said, adding that all three are extremely busy looking to finish projects elsewhere before the fall weather.

On Wednesday, Pierce announced the stadium is closed to the public for cleanup and inspection, though all other fields are open.

Cleaning of the turf field will take four days itself. Once further assessment is completed, action will be taken on the field, which is to be addressed before the track. The track cleanup and repairs will be a “seven to ten day process,” Pierce said.

“We want to do it the right way,” Pierce said, noting he hopes the process isn’t rushed and it can get done as quickly as possible while ensuring “the end product will last the town for a long time.”