New fence for Rice Field. New soccer equipment for Blake Field. A “multi-sport field and track” at Wilbur Cross.
These and other upgrades could soon come to three East Rock sports fields if the Board of Alders approves acceptance of state funding and possible federal funding.
City Engineer Giovanni Zinn presented the news to the City Plan Commission during its final online meeting Wednesday evening. The commissioners unanimously recommended that Alder Council approve the city’s request to accept the funding in question.
The improvements would affect Rice Field, Blake Field and Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex, collectively referred to as the “East Rock Sports Complex.
The project would be funded by $1.1 million allocated by the state Department of Education as well as $1.5 million approved by the State Bond Commission last July. The city also hopes to receive $750,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro requested the latter amount as part of expense bills “should pass in late 2022 or early 2023,” according to a City Plan staff report.
According to the same staff report, “These upgrades will address the condition of football, baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and athletics facilities in at least two phases.
Zinn explained on Wednesday evening that the improvements would likely include redesigning the Wilbur Cross football ground into a “multi-sport field and track,” improving the Blake softball field while adding football equipment, fencing Rice Field and improving the sports complex’s turf.
Commissioner Adam Marchand responded to the proposal enthusiastically, noting his perspective as a father of sport-driven public school children. “I’m going to hold my very excited question line for [when the proposals return to the commission for] site plan review, to save time” — it was 10:30 p.m. — but “New Haven Public School children’s sports fields need investment. I am a football dad. A lot of our pitch infrastructure is poor – it’s kind of embarrassing,” he said.
The favorable recommendation passed with flying colors; the Board of Alders City Services and Environmental Policy Committee will review the grants next week.
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