Athletic fields

Groton task force makes recommendations to address shortage of sports fields in the city


This slide, taken from a PowerPoint presentation presented Tuesday by Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture task force member Chad Frost, shows the current sports fields and facilities at Fitch High School and details work that has been done or which are needed.

Groton – The Sports Fields Task Force has presented City Council with a proposed recommendation to address the long-standing problem of a shortage of sports fields in the city.

The recommendation calls for improving sports facilities at Fitch High School and then locating additional land at Sutton Park, near the high school, primarily for student use but also for the community, said Jerry Lokken, director of recreation services for Groton Parks and Recreation and the city staff member on the task force.

The third part of the recommendation is to develop additional fields on Claude Chester School property after the school closes, Lokken said. Claude Chester, which is expected to close at the end of this school year, is adjacent to Poquonnock Plains Park.

After discussions at Tuesday’s City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, the task force will then continue to refine the proposal, including determining costs and a potential timeline if the city decides to go ahead with the proposal. , said Lokken. The plans would need funding and local approvals to come to fruition.

The Department of Parks and Recreation has offered to add funds to next year’s budget for a project to determine specific costs and locations of proposed land and develop site plans.

Lokken said the task force will further examine the issue of synthetic turf — which the task force has proposed to use on some pitches — and cost and maintenance comparisons between turf and synthetic pitches. Groton Conservation Advocates has raised concerns about the potential health impact and environmental costs of artificial turf.

Groton Conservation Advocates co-chairs Eugenia Villagra and Liz Raisbeck raised concerns about synthetic turf in a letter to city council and said scientific research shows that “natural turf is better than synthetic turf for safety and health of children, athletes and the environment. It’s cheaper in the long run. We urge the City Council to seriously consider these issues when deciding on synthetic or natural grass pitches in Groton.

The city council had formed the task force last year to determine the city’s needs and develop a vision to address a shortage of fields the city has struggled with for the past two decades, after the department parks and recreation and members of the public have approached the council, Lokken said.

Task Force Chairman Frank Norosky said the task force has been working since March to develop a solution to address the shortage of fields and equity issues.

Norosky said that since many Fitch High School teams are bused off campus, student-athletes who have to stay after school to take a test or get extra help from a teacher are put in a difficult position. as they will then miss the bus to get training.

He also said the high school’s sports complex was built in the 1960s and the facilities needed to be upgraded to ensure gender equality and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Norosky added that addressing the shortage of land for high school and Sutton Park students will have a “ripple effect” on the rest of the city, as it will free up other land for residents.

“It helps everyone in the city by opening fields that they can use at the same time,” he said.

Specifically, the secondary school site recommendation plans to renovate the main pitch into a synthetic pitch that can be used for all sports, renovate a multi-purpose pitch and add another multi-purpose pitch, improve the surface of the baseball field, adding a softball field, adding two tennis courts to the existing six courts and improving amenities, Lokken said.

The proposal calls for transforming the existing ball diamonds at Sutton Park into a full-size baseball and softball field — possibly synthetic turf — for high school athletes, as well as adding equipment, he said. Sutton Park would serve as an “auxiliary sports complex for the high school,” and student-athletes could descend the hill from the school to the park, according to a PowerPoint presentation given Tuesday by task force member Chad Frost of Kent + Landscape Architecture of frost.

The task force recommends adding two full-size multi-purpose fields and a mid-size baseball diamond to the Claude Chester property, which is being considered “an extension of Poquonnock Plains Park,” as well as adding amenities to the field existing versatile. and softball field at the new college.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the discussion centered on whether the proposal could be further prioritized; whether it could be split into several years; financing ideas, including surety bonds or the use of annual capital improvement projects; and turf fields and whether there are any environmental issues, City Manager John Burt said.

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