Turf proposed for Middlebrook field moves forward

Wilton Youth Football Inc., along with the Wilton Youth Field Hockey Association and the Wilton Lacrosse Association, is applying for a special permit that would allow the existing natural grass field at Middlebrook School, 131 School Road, to be renovated to an artificial turf field.
The Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 22.
The Board of Selectmen voted in November to allow the associations to proceed with their proposal.
The proposal was approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission on April 23.
According to the project narrative, the new surface would improve athletic performance and safety, and would allow for “increased field usage during and following inclement weather.”
The proposed renovation is set to include the installation of walkways and a service driveway to the field, biofilter basins, two new storm manholes and storm drainage improvements that would reduce downstream erosion.
The artificial turf field would not require fertilizers or pesticides.
The applicant claims the renovation would have a positive impact on the town’s emergency service providers because of the addition of the paved service driveway where no emergency access point presently exists.
The applicant also holds that the reduction of required maintenance would free the parks and grounds department to attend to other facilities.
“The intensity and frequency of use by the Middlebrook School physical education classes and the various youth athletic teams do not allow the field to be ‘rested’ resulting in the inability to adequately maintain the grass surface,” the proposal said.
“In addition,” it continues, “the Wilton Parks and Recreation Commission budget and the Wilton Parks and Grounds Department manpower do not support the replacement or maintenance of the natural grass field.”
By these points, the applicant deemed simple restoration of the natural grass not viable as a long-term solution.
Page 85 of the Wilton Conservation and Development Plan calls for the “retention of athletic fields” and states that “it is critical that ... additional opportunities are explored, particularly given the lack of land available to build new active recreation facilities.”
The applicant said it investigated five alternative sites and did not find them to be feasible.
The applicant expects the required funds to be raised over a one- to two-year period. The goal is $800,000. Wilton Youth Football and the Wilton Lacrosse Association have each made an initial pledge of $80,000.
The current funding level is $272,254, 34% of the total budget.
Fund raising has been on hold since 2013, pending necessary approvals by town commissions.