New Milford schools propose extensive upgrades to athletic program

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
New Milford High School

New Milford High School

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW MILFORD — A major weight room upgrade, a new softball fence, and new uniforms annually for some programs are on the wish list for the school district’s athletic program.

Keith Lapinsky, athletic director for New Milford Public Schools, proposes spending at least $117,000 on upgrades for athletics. Repairs to the softball fence and a safety net aren’t included in that estimate because the costs aren’t known.

The weight room hasn’t seen significant upgrades since the high school opened, Lapinsky said.

About 12 years ago, the weight room got new racks, which were good for bench presses and squats, but they’re aging, he said.

“Our free weights, dumbbells, our plate weights, bars — they’re all showing their age — with either the coating chipping off of it, or some rust showing through,” Lapinsky said at a Board of Education budget workshop last week.

Additionally, he said, the cardio equipment is limited and aging, and the floor is starting to deteriorate. He proposed new flooring in the amount of $9,600.

He envisions year one of the capital plan focusing on replacing the flooring and adding a set of kettle bell weights, which is a new training program item that a lot of teams are starting to use, he said.

Kettle bell weights are a round weight with a flat bottom and thick handle on top that is used for exercise and weight training

He’s proposing eight kettle bell weights ranging from 10 to 45 pounds, which is estimated at $400.

The weight room, which is located inside the New Milford High School, is open every day and serves hundreds of kids, he said.

Uniforms, softball

Lapinsky said it’s important to build on the town’s five-year uniform recycling plan for all its sports teams, so the district doesn’t purchase everything at the same time again, “which is a hefty bill,” he said.

“We are looking to break down the uniform cycle into five years, starting with the potential new boys volleyball program, who would not have any uniforms right now,” he added.

If the new volleyball program is approved, team uniforms are estimated at $2,500 for the year.

Additionally, uniforms are needed annually for the dance team, which is estimated to be around $2,000 a year for jazz and hip-hop outfits and costumes; and the boys and girls track and field teams, which is estimated at $3,500.

“There’s so many kids that participate in track and field programs and we use the same uniforms for both indoor and outdoor track,” Lapinsky said. “We want to make sure we are up to speed with that program and have enough for the number of kids that come out.”

Lapinsky also proposed upgrades outside the high school — to the fences. After conducting a safety check on all the school fences earlier in the fall, it was determined the 8-foot fence that goes from the tennis courts around the softball field to the left field foul line of the varsity softball field “is old,” he said, adding it’s a safety hazard.

“It’s been there since the school opened. It’s curling on the bottom. The supports and brackets on some are missing or have broken,” he said.

He looks to stabilize the fences as a whole to prevent the public from getting into areas they aren’t allowed, which can be hazardous, he said.

He’s getting estimates on the proposed repairs from local fencing companies.

Additionally, he proposed a safety netting system from the backstop of the JV softball field down the first base line. This would protect teams on the north turf field from getting hit by foul balls, which “poses a major safety risk,” he said.

With the new system, lacrosse games could take place simultaneously as softball games and practices. Currently, Lapinsky has to do some reshuffling of teams to different fields, which causes scheduling and field issues, he said.

Two companies are working on quotes for the project — Beacon Athletics and Sportsfield Specialties, which did prior work for the school.

The athletic capital items will be discussed further at the January Board of Education hearings in front of the full Board of Education.

sfox@milfordmirror.com 203-948-9802