Turf fields willl soon be a reality at New Milford High School.

A cheer went up Monday at town hall in New Milford when the Town Council voted to approve installation of two synthetic turf sports fields at NMHS.

"This is an incredible asset for the town and the high school," said councilman Joe Failla, who served on the town's turf fields committee. "The athletes who play on these fields have come out and spoken about their need.

"These fields are going to do a lot for the pride," he added, "and raising the spirit of our high school athletes playing on them."

As has happened often in the past, proponents for synthetic turf on the main field at NMHS and an adjacent field have been vocal about the need.

This time, however, Mayor Pat Murphy was authorized to form a building committee whose members will fashion a request for bids to install the new synthetic turf.

How the turf will be funded is still to be determined. The estimated cost would be $3 million to $4 million.

Murphy said possibly drawing funds for the project from the town's Waste Management Settlement Fund would still be on the table, but that would not be the only avenue for funding.

"I think this can be done without a negative impact on taxpayers," Murphy said. "I've spoken with the finance director (Ray Jankowski) and am thinking maybe short term borrowing would work.

"We've been getting good interest rates for that," he added.

The Waste Management Settlement Fund balance is now about $7 million. The fund guidelines now permit "the construction of public recreation and public education facilities" with the money.

Green Wave field hockey team player Marissa McLaughlin, an NMHS senior, spoke Monday before the council.

"Obviously, all of our sports teams have been disadvantaged by playing on grass fields at home," Marisa said. "I'm a senior this year, but those coming up after me will benefit from this change."

Keith Lipinsky, athletic director at New Milford High School, is delighted with the council's decision.

"This is a huge, positive step, not only for New Milford High School students but for the youth sports programs as well," Lipinsky said.

"Every single kid at the high school, from the physical education classes, to the marching band to those in the athletic program," he added, "will use these fields."

The installation of the turf fields could permit NMHS to host tournament competition it now doesn't, Lipinsky said.

"When you think of the kids involved in youth sports having this opportunity, it's a great thing," he said.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352