Board of Selectmen Divided on Disbanding ‘Youth Sports Committee’

While New Canaan’s highest elected official has suggested dissolving a committee tasked with overseeing youth sports in town and transferring the responsibility to a standing commission, fellow members of the Board of Selectmen are pushing back on that move. The Youth Sports Committee—widely known among locals for instituting a per-player, per-season fee for fields use 18 months ago, an effort that was itself a few years in the making—was formed in the wake of “some well publicized issues,” Selectman Nick Williams said Tuesday morning. “We had the trophy burning incident that made national headlines, we had some situations in youth sports where we had allegations made against certain coaches in terms of use of language to the kids that coincided with an explosion of youth sports, much of that because of the burgeoning of girls sports—girls lacrosse, girls soccer, et cetera— and then that brings in Title IX issues,” Williams said during the board’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “It became apparent that nobody was looking at youth sports, which is huge in this town, from the town’s point of view. The not-for-profits had youth sports organizations—soccer, football, et cetera—but there was no hub for those folks and the Youth Sports Committee was designed to be that hub, the clearinghouse for information, exchange of best practices, things like that.”

The comments came during a discussion of several volunteer “committees”—Deer Committee, Spencer’s Run Committee and Dog Litter Committee, for example—whose futures appear to be uncertain.

Town Committee to NC Lax Association: Mandatory ‘Fields Usage Fee’ Is Separate from Your Generous Contribution To Dunning

Though generous, New Canaan Lacrosse Association’s contribution to the re-turfing of Dunning Field cannot stand in or otherwise alter a mandatory fee that all youth sports organizations pay the town for the maintenance of athletic fields, officials said Monday. The volunteer committee that oversees youth sports in New Canaan at its regular meeting decided to defer to the Board of Selectmen on a request from the NCLA to waive a mandatory $20 per-player, per-season fee for fields maintenance. Lacking a quorum, the Youth Sports Committee stopped short of a formal vote on the matter at its regular meeting. Yet committee members said they’re unconvinced by the NCLA’s reasoning that a $100,000 contribution to the Dunning that drained its resources means the organization may forego paying the “fields usage fee” until its funds are replenished. “They are separate issues,” committee member Sally Campbell said at the meeting, held in Lapham Community Center.

Town: New Canaan Lacrosse Association Must Pay Mandatory ‘Fields Usage Fee’ As Other Youth Sports Groups Do

Town officials on Tuesday pushed back on a proposal from the private group that oversees youth lacrosse in New Canaan to cease paying a mandatory “fields usage fee.”

Addressing a letter sent last month by the New Canaan Lacrosse Association, members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting said that the $20 per-player, per-season fee for maintenance and upgrades at playing fields around town applies across-the-board. “I don’t see how, if we are charging all the sports groups a $20 fee, how one of them can just say, ‘Oh we changed our mind,’ ” Selectman Beth Jones said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. Though they did not name the New Canaan Lacrosse Association specifically, the selectmen referred to a letter that the NCLA president sent last month to the Youth Sports Committee, a volunteer group that had spent years finalizing plans to impose the fee. (The selectmen backed the new fee unanimously in October 2015.)

According to the Dec. 8 letter, the NCLA after contributing $100,000 toward a new turf field at Dunning Stadium last summer found its resources “drained.”

Contributed willingly to benefit athletics in town and to ensure the safety of New Canaan players, the donation also “put additional pressure on our already thin budget,” according to the letter from Kimberly Connors, NCLA president.

Did You Hear … ?

The town is seeking to settle an appeal filed by the owners of a Lukes Wood Road home after the Planning & Zoning Commission last year denied their request to allow higher-than-allowed pillars for a gate at the end of their driveway. At a special meeting of P&Z on Sept. 22, town attorney Ira Bloom said that under a “reasonable compromise” reached with the town, the pillars—which already are in place at 309 Lukes Wood Road and stand about six and seven feet above grade, given the slope of the land, against the four feet allowed by the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see Section 6.5.C.3.a on page 126 here)—will remain. However, Aris and Patricia Kekedjian have agreed to move certain trees, replant others, forego installing any fixtures atop the pillars and remove an upper piece of their driveway gate, Bloom said. P&Z commissioner Jack Flinn called the plan “more than adequate” during the meeting, held at Town Hall, and the commission voted unanimously to support it.

‘It Is Going To Hurt Us’: Parks Officials Seek Youth Sports’ ‘Fields Usage’ Funds To Fertilize Playing Fields

New Canaan’s playing fields will suffer this fall if funding doesn’t come through soon to fertilize them, parks officials say. The fields at New Canaan High School and parks such as Waveny and Mead need two applications of fertilizer by the end of June, according to John Howe, parks superintendent in the Department of Public Works. But this year, access to the funds typically available for the work has changed, under a new system whereby the nonprofit organizations that operate each youth sport pay a $20 per-player “fields usage fee” into the town’s General Fund, for re-allocation back to parks, officials said during a meeting last week of the Youth Sports Committee. “If we are not going to see that money for a month, that means I am two months away,” Howe said during the volunteer group’s April 18 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “That money is going to come in at the end of the budget year.