REDDING AND EASTON, Conn. -- Redding and Easton voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a plan to renovate athletic facilities at Joel Barlow High School.
The finally tally had 1,414 votes to approve the plan, or 62 percent of the vote. There were 867 votes against it in the two communities. The school for students in grades 9-12 serves both towns.
The planned improvements would cost $3.272 million, shared between Redding (55 percent) and Easton (45 percent). Financing would come through a 20-year bond that would cost property taxpayers about $27 per year.
The improvements would include new home and visitor bleachers with a capacity for 1,000 fans (about the same as the current stands); new field lighting with low-glare bulbs; a multi-purpose synthetic field service; refurbished areas for track and field events; a paved, landscaped and lit parking area; new fencing; and an eight-year full replacement warranty.
The existing facility is nearly 30 years old, and proponents of the renovation say repairs are long overdue. A group, Barlow Excellence, favored the renovations. Keith Gallagher, a spokesman for Barlow Excellence, said he was surprised by the lopsided victory.
"All along I've been saying I was cautiously optimistic,'' Gallagher said. "The Board of Education put something out there that made a lot of sense."
Opponents said the repairs were unnecessary and costly. "This is gold plating of a perfectly fine facility and needs to be rejected,'' an opponent of the project wrote in a comment in an earlier story on The Daily Voice. "... This is a three-and-a-quarter-million-dollar dump of the taxpayers (sic) money."
Teams in football, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball and track and field are expected to benefit from the renovations, with enhanced safety and better practice facilities. Youth sports organizations are also expected to benefit from the renovations, which are are expected to begin soon.