‘A Milestone For This Town’: Residents Form Private Group To Support New Canaan’s Athletic Facilities; Dunning, NCHS Track On Radar

Faced with a pressing need to re-turf New Canaan’s premier sports field prior to the start of the fall season, 20 town residents six weeks ago formed a new nonprofit foundation focused on that project and several others. In that very short amount of time, thanks to generous donors representing a wide cross-section of the community, the New Canaan Athletic Foundation (here on Facebook and here on Twitter) not only raised more than $500,000 needed to replace the aging turf at Dunning Stadium, but also sketched out a long-term vision for supporting athletic facilities in town. “It is going to be a community organization, so we are contemplating all sports—not just, say, football, soccer and lacrosse,” said Mike Benevento, chairman of the NCAF board of directors. A New Canaan resident for 13 years and professional asset manager with four kids ranging in ages from 3 to 12, Benevento added: “It’s for athletic projects that can benefit the community as a whole, and athletic facilities. It’s a broad initiative.”

News of the newly formed organization broke Tuesday during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, when a $554,490 contract was approved for Rockland, Mass.-based R.A.D. Sports to replace the artificial turf at Dunning.

Friday Evening: Women’s World Cup ‘Viewing Picnic’ Planned for Pop Up Park

Though plans to install the Pop Up Park downtown permanently through the summer have been indefinitely suspended, one local organization is moving forward—with blessings from all parties—with a Women’s World Cup “viewing picnic” to be held Friday evening at South Avenue between Morse Court and Elm Street. The New Canaan Soccer Association is encouraging locals to wear red, white and blue and attend the event that it organized and for which it secured town approval last month. Three big-screen TVs will air Australia vs. Nigeria at 5 p.m., followed by the United States vs. Sweden at 8 p.m.

“Please bring your own food and drink,” the association says.

‘Our Town, Our Time’: Ram Spirit Fund Regroups, Expands Sponsorships for Turf Fields at NCHS

The Ram Spirit Fund
With prospective six-figure donors urging them to garner wider community support, the architects of a plan to create two additional turf playing fields at New Canaan High School are calling on local youth sports families to get behind the estimated $2 million project. Launched about one month ago on a tight timeline, the project calls for one regulation turf field ($800,00) and one full 80-by-60-yard practice field ($400,000) by the water towers at NCHS, game-quality lighting at both ($300,000) and new turf installation at Dunning Stadium ($500,000), according to the Ram Spirit Fund’s leadership. Its committee includes the NCHS athletic director, recreation director of the town and officials from the All Sports Booster Club and youth field hockey, football, lacrosse and soccer groups. If a reasonable number of New Canaan families step up by sponsoring a square yard of turf at $500 each—the Ram Spirit Fund this week is launching a new “Our Town, Our Time” fundraising push—then the base money raised there combined with what’s been pledged will put the project on track, said Michael Murphy of the All Sports Booster Club. “There are 3,000 youth sports families in this town and we’ve giving them an opportunity to show support for this community project,” Murphy said.

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).