New Canaan will spend about $30,000 this fall improving baseball and softball fields that officials say were in subpar condition this spring, drawing criticism from the groups that use them.
Most of the money will go to repair what are commonly referred to as the men’s rec softball fields at Waveny and the girls’ softball diamonds at the Orchard and Water Tower fields, Parks Superintendent John Howe said by way of requesting the funds during Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.
“They’re due, as we try to rotate around (the 10 public parks’ baseball and softball fields in New Canaan),” Howe said during the meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.
“The other work, on the small fields at Conner and Saxe, it’s minor work, relatively speaking, and that is why the prices are less,” Howe said.
The selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of the $30,081 allocation: $11,845 to Athletic Field Services for the Waveny softball fields, $6,461 for Greg Twardy Jr. Landscape Service for Conner, Saxe and Mead (main field) baseball fields and 11,775 for Read Custom Soils for infield clay. (The figures include contingency funds.)
The improvements to the fields that rec softball players use are sorely needed, officials said. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said during the meeting that his office fielded many complaints from players in the spring, and so he went and saw the fields himself.
Howe said the town has been “putting band-aids on it for a while.”
“Part of what is not in this bid that we can do in-house is the bench areas,” Howe said. “We are going to improve them, but that is work that we can work we can easily do, to remove what is there from fresh stone and it is operational type work. So they should be happy next spring.”
He added that the work on the men’s softball fields will temporarily displace some boys’ fall baseball programs. Interestingly, Howe said during the meeting that he had met this week with the co-presidents of New Canaan Baseball, “and they are looking into—since we bid out more work than we have money for—they are looking into possibly supplementing and doing more work on some of the fields they use.”
Private organizations such as New Canaan Baseball run most of the youth sports programs in New Canaan, and the town and residents continue to benefit from their ability to take in money and fund capital projects. Recently, town officials including Selectman Nick Williams have described those projects as apart from what rightly should be a consistently applied and transparent per-player fee that the town takes in from all youth sports organizations for fields upkeep and upgrades.