Letter: No reason to say ‘no’ to turf project

To the Editors:
(This letter to Planning & Zoning Commissioners Doris Knapp, John Comisky, Joe Fiteni, and Frank Wong is printed here at the author’s request.)
As taxpaying/voting Wilton citizens, we have followed closely the application to install artificial turf and state-of-the-art lighting at Middlebrook School. After two years and over $200k wasted, no credible reason remains why you are on the “Vote No” side of the project (according to The Wilton Bulletin).
Is it standing? No. While opponents questioned the Wilton Youth Football (WYF) legal standing to file the application, Wilton’s Board of Selectmen unanimously approved WYF’s authority on all land use. The project is also supported by Wilton’s first selectman, the Wilton Board of Education, Wilton Parks & Recreation, Middlebrook School administration, and the Inland Wetlands Commission. No town entity opposes the project. This application is submitted with appropriate standing.
Is it safety? No. Inland Wetlands voted 6-0 approving the project. There is no scientific proof that crumb rubber causes cancer — and there have been scientific studies stating that no elevated health risks are linked to crumb rubber turf fields and these studies have been provided to you. Wilton’s parents will always be the best protectors of their children and the current field and lights are dangerously unsafe.
Is it finances? No. WYF is working with all youth sports organizations and private individuals to raise the necessary money and gift the field to the town — no taxpayer dollars will be spent on the purchase or installation of this project. Additionally, WYF will help offset the replacement cost at the end of the field’s useful life. It is also not the role of the P&Z to patrol the finances of a project when considering an application.
It is lights? No. The submitted plan calls for state-of-the-art LED lighting which will result in a 99% reduction of spill and glare of existing lights. The uplighting component is necessary for safety reasons and will only be visible when an object (ball) is in the air — you will not see “beams of light.” P&Z has already approved other uplighting projects in town, and no less than 20 instances exist, including churches, the library, retail locations, and Veterans Memorial Green, where the U.S. flag is properly illuminated by three lights pointed directly to the sky. Town Planner Nerney advised you it is within your discretion to interpret the town regulations in this area and our regulations are designed to be guidelines — not a hammer to crush valid projects.
Any logical person, including a large majority of the residents you are elected to serve, can see this project clearly improves current conditions, requires no taxpayer funding, is widely endorsed, improves home values, enhances youth athletic and Middlebrook experience, and alleviates growing field space issues in town.
When you balance the pros and cons of this project there is one clear vote to be cast. This project is one giant step in making Wilton great again. We will be waiting to see what you do.
Jeff Siegel
Wilton resident on behalf of all in favor of the project
Wilton, Oct. 5