New Milford finance director questions turf field funding
Updated 11:31 pm, Tuesday, September 29, 2015
NEW MILFORD — The plan to install artificial turf on two of the high school’s athletic fields hit a snag Monday night when the town’s finance director requested time to further consider funding options.
The Town Council planned to discuss and possibly take action Monday on setting a special Town Meeting for Oct. 20 for residents to decide on using $4 million from the Waste Management Settlement Fund to pay for the fields, track renovations and field lighting at the high school.
However, no one had discussed with Finance Director Ray Jankowski how the project should be funded.
“Taking an appropriation from the Waste Management Fund would reduce 10 percent of the balance that town revenue is based on,” Jankowski told the board. “No one informed me that this was going to be on the agenda. I would recommend bonding the project, but I’m not prepared to talk about that tonight.”
Pete Bass, chairman of the Artificial Turf Field Construction Committee and Town Council vice chairman, said the push to get the funding secured is needed to send out bid requests by November. Bass said bids received after that time are expected to be more expensive.
Despite a push from Joe Failla, another turf committee and council member, Jankowski declined to explain his thoughts on the funding. The council eventually voted to table the discussion until the next meeting on Oct. 13.
“Our director of finance asked for time,” Council member Katy Francis said. “He’s not ready to discuss this right this minute. I don’t want to rush Ray to act on this before he’s prepared.”
The Zoning Commission has not yet approved the project’s special-permit and site-plan application. The public zoning hearing on the applications that began Sept. 22 was kept open. Zoning Chairman Bill Taylor said some details of the project were not available that first night. He hopes more residents attend the next session of the public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 13.
“This is a project that people should see and give the commission feedback on,” Taylor said.
The artificial turf fields are proposed to have a sand-and-crumb rubber fill. Luke McCoy, associate with BSC Group, has advised the Artificial Turf Field Construction Committee on the project and provided documentation on the safety of the crumb rubber.
“No negative health affects were found,” McCoy said at the Sept. 14 Town Council meeting. “They found carcinogens, but at such a low level, it doesn’t affect you. Eighteen studies have found it to be safe. Organic fill requires more maintenance and has to be kept moist, but on heavy rain events will clump and needs time to be reworked and conditioned.”
McCoy has also recommended a new eight-lane track and lighting for the stadium and the practice field at the high school since both would have artificial turf and be available for night games.