Faced with a need for more playing time, officials this week approved a contract to kickstart a look into installing turf fields at Saxe Middle School.
The Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting Wednesday—its last as currently composed—voted 3-0 in favor of a contract with New Canaan-based RKW Land Surveying to survey the grass fields at Saxe.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted in favor of the $13,900 contract. The cost will be borne by the New Canaan Athletic Foundation.
A recommendation to study the Saxe fields “for the potential to install turf fields” emerged because “some of the fields at Saxe are a little bit too wet for a gym class to go out, given the fact that the grass we’re not able to play on as much as we would like,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
“So, the Athletic Foundation is coming forward with funds to survey the entire grass area to be able to take a look at and then work forward towards the design,” Mann said.
Asked how many turf fields the project could involve, NCAF Chair Mike Benevento said that with all of the rain this fall “there’s been a groundswell of youth sports asking for this.”
“And interestingly, in discussions with the Board of Ed and [Superintendent of Schools] Dr. [Bryan] Luizzi, I guess they’re losing time for gym classes, as well, because they can’t go out to use the fields for recess,” Benevento said.
He added, “And I can tell you from my 5th grader—yeah, I have a 5th grader, every time I say that—that’s a real issue. But for anything to get done, and we learned this with the Dunning project, we learned this from the Coppo Field project, the first thing to do is to survey the area before you can initiate.”
Williams, a longtime youth soccer coach in the community, noted that the far (eastern) end of the Saxe playing fields have “always been swampy.”
“If you’re closer to South Avenue, it’s not as bad, but if you go east, it gets worse,” he said.
Mann agreed that “everything pitches downhill” back there.
Benevento said, “I think the other initiative and catalyst for this was really the fields allocation and the bottleneck that we’ve faced at the youth sport level. And there is a group that would like to see more turf to relieve that bottleneck, hopefully. And so, as we looked around at logical places, this was one in coordination with the BOE that seemed to make sense. So, we start at the beginning and we get a survey done. That’s where we’re at.”
The selectmen also asked whether the town has any concerns about neighbors owning the property in question (no) and what is the status of turfing Conner Field off of Farm Road (it got pushed to make way for the Coppo project).