Athletic fields

Architect details recommendations for sports fields at Walsh School in Branford


BRANNORD – Months after commissioning a feasibility study on new athletic fields surrounding the newly expanded and renovated Francis Walsh Middle School, the school board got a first look at the plans.

Michael Losasso, an architect from Antinozzi and Associates, presented a draft summary at the Education Council meeting this fall.

Despite requests, no copy has been made public.

Peter Berdon, the new chairman of the board, said the report was not yet finalized. A full report, along with a price tag, is expected in December, in time to be included in the district’s investment budget plan.

In addition, plans, so far, focus on the needs of schools for the 29-acre site, recognizing that the Damascus Road property is also used by others in the city, including the high school and the parks and recreation department.

“This area never loses a spell,” Berdon said over the summer when the feasibility study was commissioned. “That’s why it’s as it is. That’s why (parents) want a versatile turf pitch.”

Schools superintendent Hamlet Hernandez said some schools and towns must overlap.

A copy of the plan will be forwarded to First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove, who has expressed support for the modernization of the Walsh fields.

Losasso, whose company also worked on the Walsh renovation project, said the plan recommends several improvements and fixes several long-standing water issues on the property.

Located in a 500-year-old floodplain area, the fields are frequently wet.

The plan is to “dry them out,” Losasso said. “And also improve the time that they can be used, both the length and the frequency.”

The recommendations, according to Losasso, are to:

– Replace the existing main athletics field in natural grass with a multi-purpose field.

– Replace an existing gravel track that surrounds the field with a synthetic turf pitch and adjust the drainage by raising the surface of the ground.

– The new synthetic track would not be intended for competition, but would be four lanes and marked.

– A training ground adjacent to the west would remain a grass field, but would be redeveloped with an irrigation system.

– The baseball field would retain its 60 foot base trails, as the site is not large enough for bases 90 feet apart.

– A field hockey training ground would replace an existing ropes course.

– The existing softball field would be redeveloped with improved drainage.

– A storage shed would be refurbished and a second moved.

– Outdoor toilets would be built as well as an outdoor water bottle filling station.

“We believe that the field improvements will obviously benefit Francis Walsh’s program and will also be used by other programs in the city,” Losasso said.

Board member Tim Raynor called it a great plan and asked for more details on the drainage plan.

Losasso said there would be a well between the fields to improve drainage.

“How are you going to ensure the drainage of this whole area?” Asked Laura Trodle, board member. “This whole area is a swamp.”

Losasso said a durable backfill will be made and a drain will be installed to help drain water from the fields.

Jennifer Orlando, one of the many parents who pushed the board to bring new fields into the $ 88.2 million Walsh project, told the board she was eagerly waiting for a budget to be attached to plan next month.

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