An anonymous potential benefactor, who came forward in April, has pulled out of plans to help fund installation of artificial turf fields at New Milford High School.

The school alumnus had offered to provide significant funding toward an overhaul of the athletic fields, particularly replacing the current natural grass on the Wiser Field and practice field with artificial turf.

The New Milford High School Booster Club's vision at that time was to not only revamp the fields, but to resurface the track and tennis courts, which were built when the Route 7 South school was new in 2000.

A $2.3 million complex was proposed.

The donor had said he was waiting to write a check until he was certain the project would have the financial support of all interested parties in town.

"When the donor was there, he wanted to do the big deal," Marty Monteiro, president of the Booster Club, said last week. "Unfortunately, when we gave him the price, he stepped back. The economy had hit him, like it has so many."

The Booster Club hopes to form a task force to explore alternate ways to finance the project, focusing now on replacing the main field at a projected cost of about $900,000.

Wendy Faulenbach, the Board of Education chairwoman, said the project is worthwhile, but the board can play only a small part in bringing it to fruition. It should be a townwide project, she said.

"We need to get a referendum before the town," Mr. Monteiro said. "It's apparent to me that the Board of Education doesn't have the money for this kind of project. It's unfeasible to expect them to, with budgets just barely going through year after year."

Mr. Monteiro said he plans to ask the Town Council to form a committee of council members, parents and others in the community with interest in the project.

"If they can raise the money, I'm all for it," Dan Nichols, the board's facilities subcommittee chairman, said Friday. "Like anything else in life, it depends on if you have the funding."

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322