Turf fields could be in the offing at NMHS
Turf fields and a general upgrading of the athletic facilities at New Milford High School could be in the works.
The potential of an NMHS graduate becoming a benefactor at the 11-year-old Route 7 South school appears linked with town leaders' willingness for the town to shoulder some of those costs.
Marty Monteiro, the president of the New Milford High School Booster Club, said the now anonymous donor favors overhauling the high school's Joseph Wiser Athletic Complex facilities, particularly replacing of the natural grass multipurpose main field and adjoining practice field with artificial turf.
Yet the possible donor is not yet willing to write a check because he wants to be certain this is a project embraced by all interested parties in town.
The Booster Club's vision is to revamp not only the fields but resurface the track and the tennis courts.
The estimated cost to do it all is said by Mr. Monteiro likely to be around $1.5 million.
To be able to meet the donor's conditions, Mr. Monteiro said he hopes funds from the legal settlement with Waste Management -- an account set up in the 1990s for major community projects -- be tapped to help offset the cost of improvements.
Town officials must approve any such expenditure.
Mayor Pat Murphy said she is aware of the project, and certainly sees advantages for school and community sports with artificial turf fields.
She said she needs more information, and expects formal presentations about the pros and cons would be required to get the nod from both school and town leaders.
Yet the mayor said she is certainly willing to speak with the donor and other parties about ways to fund the project if it were to be deemed worthy.
With the political logistics and financial requirements involved, Mr. Monteiro informed the Board of Education's facilities committee Tuesday the earliest he could envision the project being launched would be this fall.
It could be much longer.
With no donor identified, the Booster Club anticipated seeking town and private funds with the expectation the project would then be completed within about three years, Mr. Monteiro said.
Board of Education member Lynette Celli Rigdon has hopes an arrangement could be reached.
She believes the project could prove a catalyst for economic development and community growth because such amenities are often attractions for job seekers.
"It's exciting,'' Ms. Rigdon said. "It's not going to happen this year ... but I want to believe that people will pull together and that the community will rally behind the project with an understanding that it brings new opportunities to New Milford.
"New Milford can have something to be proud of. I'm looking forward to figuring it out one step at a time.''