Plans for turf field continue to move forward

The Time to Turf initiative to replace Middlebrook’s grass field with synthetic turf has faced some setbacks but has not stopped moving forward.

“The plan is still to support the initiative and do everything we can to get a quality turf field at Middlebrook and get the resources to expand and develop our programs as best we can,” said John Arrix, president of the Wilton Lacrosse Association.

The Time to Turf website lists the benefits of a turf field, including:

• More productive use of space, year-round field usage.

• Increased playing time for kids.

• Reduced weather-related cancellations.

• Reduced mowing and maintenance fees.

The project budget is $800,000, according to the Time to Turf website, and $247,608 has already been raised through donations.

“Wilton Lacrosse Association and Wilton Youth Football are key partners behind Time to Turf,” said Mr. Arrix.

The two groups each made pledges of $80,000 toward the project.

Wilton Youth Field Hockey is also a supporter of the initiative.

The push to get a turf field at Middlebrook officially began June 6, 2012, and Mr. Arrix said it has been a long process.

“The initiative began a couple years ago and hopefully we’ll make some progress and get this to the next level,” he said.

The sports groups have been unsuccessful so far in moving another proposal forward, that of stadium lights.

In April 2012, the Wilton Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance to increase the height of the light poles at Middlebrook, but it was challenged in court. An attempt to amend zoning regulations to allow for the lights was voted down by the Planning & Zoning Commission late last year.

“Higher athletic field lighting would have obviously allowed for maximum use of the field and be safer for sports participants,” said  Mr. Arrix.

“We obviously hit a hurdle on the light issue, but it’s progressing,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of good support, not only in the lacrosse community but in the town, to get the turf field at Middlebrook.”

Casey Healy, an attorney at Gregory and Adams law firm, is Time to Turf’s legal counsel. He said the redevelopment of Middlebrook field still needs a regulated activity permit from the Inland Wetlands Commission and a special permit from the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Upon receipt of those approvals, and after satisfying any conditions of approval imposed by those commissions, he said, a zoning permit from Planning & Zoning and a building permit from the Building Department would have to be issued before any construction activity could begin.

“It is not clear whether any permits from or filings with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Health are required at this point,” said Mr. Healy.