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Athletes, Families Show Support for Turf Project

A presentation this week led to a high level of support from the public on the concept of installing synthetic turf at Southington High School.

When Mike DeFeo, chairman of the council-appointed , approached the council this week to present his recommendation regarding the installation of synthetic turf at Fontana Field, he wasn’t alone.

The chairman stood before a crowd of athletes and local families representing five different sports as he passed a recommendation to the council that they move to synthetic turf at the football field. His recommendation led to a loud applause from the audience, which filled the .

“I think this shows that this isn’t just about a football field. It won’t be a football field – you look around and there are players here from the soccer teams, the field hock team. They all support this,” said Southington Blue Knights head football coach Mike Drury.

“We would more than welcome new uses and other uses of the field,” he said. “This is something that could bring home CIAC playoff games for these other teams and unity among sports programs at the school. That is an aspect we have been working to build upon.”

DeFeo told the council that all data points to better quality, safer play and long-term savings if the town were to make a move to a synthetic turf surface at Fontana Field. In fact, using what he described as “extremely conservative estimates,” the town would see five times as much activity on the field and save $173,000 over a 10-year period.

The plan in place would also use some of the cost savings, particularly that within maintenance of the field, to begin saving for turf replacement at the end of the cycle.

Despite some accusations that the committee was “rigged” and was set on recommending turf from the start, DeFeo said the recommendation was not one that the committee took lightly. Only after an extensive process did it come to the recommendation, he said.

“We battled for four months, had true committee meetings and discussed all kinds of concerns regarding both turf and field needs,” he said. “In end, we came to a unanimous recommendation and looking at the revenue moving forward in this, we think it’s very important to move forward.”

“I’m glad that we didn’t do this seven years ago. The quality and everything today is more cost efficient,” DeFeo said.

Council members expressed thanks to committee members, but have not taken any official action on turf this week. Instead, Council Chairman Edward Pocock III said there are still a few concerns and some numbers he’d like to see in advance to making any final decisions.

Pocock said he’d like to see the presentation made to, and vetted by, members and more importantly, he wants a complete list of interested companies and projected prices for if the project were included today.

“When this list was made, we could be looking at prices that were quoted from one year ago. We need to have more direct numbers of exactly what it would cost us in real dollars here in Southington,” Pocock said. “I think we should set a number - $910,000 – as a maximum for any early bids. Once we hit the mark, what happens if something goes wrong?”

The town would consider a possible vote on a referendum if it appears costs could possibly exceed $1 million, a requirement under town charter, and Pocock said he wasn’t about to try and step around that.

Numbers provided in the process will remain confidential and will not be released to the public, Mark Sciota said, as to not interfere with a potential future bidding process. Once the numbers are collected, only the final estimates will be released.

Tom W March 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM
It's very easy for one group to rally attendance to a meeting like this and say, "Hey, everyone's behind it." The Nazis did the same thing in Munich in the '30's and it goes on all the time elsewhere. The proof is in the voting, though, here in American and the only real way to assess support is a Town-wide referendum on this matter. Be truthful about the real estimated cost (over $1 million) and put it to a town-wide vote. This should not be based upon the emotions of a lot of sports backers. There are many other expenditures the Town needs to make that benefit a heck of a lot more people.
Philip F March 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM
"Despite some accusations that the committee was “rigged” and was set on recommending turf from the start, DeFeo said the recommendation was not one that the committee took lightly. Only after an extensive process did it come to the recommendation, he said." Balony! And to support the Balony award, we have the following statement, "Numbers provided in the process will remain confidential and will not be released to the public, Town Attorney Mark Sciota said, as to not interfere with a potential future bidding process. Once the numbers are collected, only the final estimates will be released." In order to provide for good public scrutiny and comment, those numbers will be released a good 12 hours before the Town Council vote (which will likely be in executive session). Hey Eddie, already worrying about bids, eh?! Naw, this thing wasn't rigged from the start alright! All on the up-and-up.
Bonnie Sica March 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM
This was a can of worms better left unopened. $700,00 for twelve games = 58,000 per game for new grass field. Then 85 players comes out to 686.00 per player per game. Yearly cost after installation is approx. $47.00 per player per game. Few players are playing college ball or getting in the NFL. Maybe football needs to be recreational or pay for play. Swimming, tennis, golf, cross country,wrestling, baseball, band, robotics etc. all produce many scholarships for our students at no cost or low cost to the school system. The SHS baseball field is in disrepair and we do not spend the money to fix it and we produce MLB players. I am a sports mom and I love watching the HS teams and the town recreational teams play. When we have 500 families receiving food from the Social Service pantry and we have more residents losing their jobs and houses where are our priorities. We are in a fiscal mess and as much as I love sports, priorities must be straight. School is for education and the SHS library committee has come up with a initial cost estimate of at least $800,000 to get the library up to date and fix the meeting room problems cited in the NEASC report. NEASC is the group that accredits our high school. I know that many strong and important people are part of the gridiron club. I hope that those on the BOE and the Town Council involved with these groups abstain when voting.
Arthur Cyr March 14, 2012 at 04:07 PM
If people continue to talk about this project and ONLY talk about football, they are simply ignoring a majority of the facts. This is a proposal to make this a Community Field for ALL sports and community activities. Strange how people are opposed to this, but seem to support funding other sports and "their" priorities and then mixes up the Town Library and the High School. And last I checked, no member of the BOE or Town Council were "involved" with High School football. And how many people receive assistance from Community Services has nothing to do with the difference between real or artificial grass at the high school.
Bonnie Sica March 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Art, Your clear dislike of me is evident. You know nothing about the HS library project. I sat on the committee for an entire year with a BOE member, The principal, students, parents and both PTO presidents. We also had meeting with Dr. Erardi and had consultations from the State Library Planner and two separate architects. I did not say that I was for or against turf. I stated that we are spending to much now on grass for only twelve games. Would you not agree. Turf would offer many more opportunities for use but I feel that it is not a fiscally responsible time to spend any of this money either a full grass replacement or turf. You do put on a great face with your fact and figures from your non life meeting attendance totals. The truth is that their are those of us who work and volunteer to support our town in many ways and those who just watch from the first seat in the second row of the audience. By the way I also support the Town Library project. Oh I forgot, you didn't get that memo because you truly are on the outside looking in.
S.D.H. March 14, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I have had an opportunity to speak to a number of people regarding the possibility of installing artificial turf at SHS (as well as many other community related projects). The consensus of the people I have spoken to is clear, no one is opposed to the turf provided it is funded privately through grants or donations. No one I have spoken to is suspect of the motives of the committee, town council or board of ed, however, everyone I have spoken to objects to this project being funded with taxpayers dollars and is uncomfortable with the price being so very close to the referendum threshold. Best of luck to everyone who has to evaluate the pros and cons of this project. I hope the matter is put to a referendum vote during a regular election to give the taxpayer the right to make a decision on how a $1 million is best spent.
Arthur Cyr March 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Nasty personal attacks are nothing new from you. You want funds for your projects and interests. You extended personal attack about me being on the "outside" is also wrong. I just stay as far away from you as possible.
Arthur Cyr March 14, 2012 at 08:03 PM
TO SDH. I also spoke about having the initial funding done thru grants and private fundraising. That is the best way to achieve the desired results. The problem was with opponents that from day one kept saying grass, grass, grass with no information when it was and is by far a much more expensive route in the next 2-3 years. Artificial turf would also open up the facility to much more organizations and uses.
S.D.H. March 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM
To any interested party...I was merely expressing my point of view and that of others I have spoken to regarding the installation of artificial turf at SHS. As an adult who wants to set an example to children and young adults that may read the posts on this website, I want to assure you that no comment I make is directed at any person. I, and many others, will support any effort to establish a private fund raising effort to support this project and any other project that supports developing team building skills and a sense of community for the youth of Southington.
Barb March 16, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I get the benefits of artificial turf, I really do but when I think artifical turf...has anyone seen the movie the Lorax??
E. Taylor March 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM
What I would like to know is why the field is in such poor condition when we,THE TAXPAYERS, have spent $43,113.00 to maintain the field on a yearly basis. The way I figure it is, that for a 180 day school term, we end up paying $239.52 a day upkeep of the field. Why is it in such a deplorable condition?
AnnS March 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM
E. Taylor, the field is only in such deplorable condition because of ignorance. The sports complex headed by Rah-Rah Fontana and party spokesman, Arthur "Mr. Facts-n-Figures" Cyr, have convinced an ignorant public that it is in such condition; taking a walk around the field, one concludes otherwise. And I agree with your math, why the heck are we spending that per diem for a high school kids playing field? I'm thinking a lawn mowing a couple times a month and a quick lining for a football game; that oughta do it nicely. That's why this whole turf project is a heinous farce. Spending good, needed tax dollars on a costly, unneeded replacement to an already costly status quo is a shame on the Town Officials for promoting this project!

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