Re-Started: Plan for Second Artificial Turf Practice Field at New Canaan High School Underway


A widely anticipated, long-postponed plan to install a second artificial turf field by the water tower at Waveny inched forward Tuesday, as town officials approved $75,000 in privately donated funds to allow engineers to design the project.

Known as ‘Water Tower Field Phase II,” the field—to run from the tennis courts at the high school, along the southernmost parking lot and to the edge of the Waveny (about 600 feet long), abutting the artificial turf field already in place—had been approved by Park & Recreation, Town Council and Planning & Zoning last summer. It would be used primarily by football, lacrosse, soccer and field hockey teams, officials say, with new striping possible for those different sports.

The Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting approved 2-1 the allocation of $75,000, plus $2,000 in reimbursable expenses, for Avon-based Richter & Cegan to design the project. Officials say costs could approach $2 million, with planned new light towers to go with them (pegged at around $300,000 alone).

Selectman Beth Jones, who cast a dissenting vote, said: “It is a very inner circle, Recreation-minded group that has done all of the planning so far and I think somewhere we still need to have a conversation of do we want two more artificial turf fields. It should not be a small, insulated group that is making these decisions.”

Selectman Nick Williams noted that the required town approvals already had been secured.

“I think that train has left the station,” he said.

The field had been introduced several years ago as a later phase of a plan that already has seen the installation of one artificial turf field (easily accessed by the Lapham Community Center lot) and it always had been understood that it would be funded privately—itself a practice that the town’s highest elected officials are re-examining now.

Before the installation of the second, larger artificial turf field could move forward, the economy downturn hit in 2008 and the private funds needed to see it through never materialized. Drainage systems had been put in place years ago to accommodate a second artificial turf field, officials say.

Mike Murphy was in attendance at the selectmen meeting. Officials said that Murphy, as a Youth Sports Committee representative, had been responsible early on in bringing together parties from youth football, lacrosse and soccer to discuss and support the project.

Saying that turf is “very, very, very expensive and expensive to replace,” Jones asked whether the selectmen could open a discussion about whether an endowment of some kind would be created in order to cover the costs of maintaining the turf fields.

Williams said that he understood “there will be collected donations above and beyond the actual spend necessary” in order to support them financially.

Williams said he’s not comfortable with the idea that a responsibility that rightly is the town’s—upkeep of playing fields, for example—is being funded by private money. “We should not be in the mindset that everything done to recreational facilities should be funded with private money,” he said.

It isn’t clear just how much the second turf field itself will cost. During an interview after the selectmen meeting, Recreation Director Steve Benko said that the engineering study will give an idea of the project’s cost, and that in turn will set the bar for fundraising needs. Asked what would be the ideal time to get the project done, Benko said if work started around June 1 then it could be wrapped up by late August, when fall varsity athletes return for practice.

2 thoughts on “Re-Started: Plan for Second Artificial Turf Practice Field at New Canaan High School Underway

  1. Good news ! Sounds like Nick Williams is coming around to
    the idea of private funding for fields. Was there any discussion of
    “turfing” Spencer’s Run. My dogs are tired of muddy feet
    and would welcome a first class facility to train on as well. Fair is

    • One thing that’s a little awkward about this project is that it started and received approvals several years ago, under a different first selectman and prior to Nick Williams’ time on the selectmen, so that to me makes it a bit harder to judge.

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