Turf fields for NMHS find new support
Turf fields at New Milford High School may still be a long time coming, but there's hope.
A subcommittee has been formed by the Town Council to consider the pros and cons of installing two artificial turf sports fields at NMHS.
The subcommittee consists of three council members, two Board of Education members and two private residents.
There is one vacancy.
"I look forward to pressing forward with the field analysis and survey," said Doug Skelly, a subcommittee member. "It is good to finally bring the need for turf fields to the forefront."
"They are much needed," he opined, "with the overuse of the present grass fields by high school teams and local sports leagues."
Both Skelly and Alhage are sports parents who have been active for years on the local youth sports scene.
Turf fields have long been a goal for various waves of parents since the high school opened in 2000, but the various plans have bottomed out.
The latest proponents for synthetic sports fields at the high school have recently been vocal, speaking before both the Board of Education and Town Council.
Alhage has spearheaded the current effort.
Advocates' proposal would be to have an artificial turf laid at the high school's main field and on an adjacent practice field, both now grass.
Alhage said cost quotes for both fields range from $1.2 million to $1.4 million.
"We want to make sure we present all the relevant facts," Alhage said, "so that everyone has a good understanding of the rationale behind this request."
He was modest about his role in bringing the issue forward.
"I'm picking up the ball where others left off," he said. "We have momentum now. It's an awareness level of need that has to be reached and people are seeing the need now."
The subcommittee will meet for six months.
It may, at the end of that time, recommend how to finance the project, Mayor Pat Murphy said.
Some have suggested taking money for the project from the town's Waste Management land-fill settlement fund.
The fund was designated for open-space preservation and other projects that would enhance the quality of life in New Milford.
At this time, it has a $7.56 million balance. Such an appropriation would be the purview of the Town Council.