Artificial Turf Recommended For Joel Barlow Stadium

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Eric Roise, Gale Associates project manager, discussed Barlow field improvements.
Eric Roise, Gale Associates project manager, discussed Barlow field improvements. Photo Credit: Ken Liebeskind

REDDING, Conn. – The renovation of Redding's Joel Barlow football stadium may include an artificial turf field if the recommendations of the Financial Advisory Committee are approved.

The committee also announced its recommendation of new bleachers, stadium lights and track fencing, which, along with the turf field, will have a price tag of $2.4 million, according to estimates provided by Gale Associates, the engineering firm that completed Phase One of the feasibility study.

Tuesday night, the Region 9 Board of Education approved Phase Two, in which Gale Associates will proceed with design and construction plans that will allow the board to put the plan up for town approval this spring.

Chris Hocker, chairman of the Financial Advisory Committee, said the group approved the four stadium improvements while tentatively holding off on parking lot upgrades and new restrooms.

Susanne Krivit, a local resident, objected to the priorities. “When you walk into the stadium, you don’t have a good impression," she said. "The parking lot is dilapidated and I can’t imagine spending $2.4 million and still walking into an ugly entrance. We need curb appeal.”

Hocker responded by saying a new parking lot could be added for an additional $271,300. Eric Roise, Gale Associates project manager, said it would include 107 spaces including handicapped parking facilities.

Roise said Phase Two would be completed by early February, which will give the board the chance to prepare a proposal for a spring referendum vote.

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I'd like to know what studies and what comparisons were provided to and considered by the FAC before they made this decision. If the only choice provided is a turf field, and that is what the reportage seems to indicate, then the whole process is flawed from the outset. It is a false choice to tell citizens they can only approve or reject a artificial turf field. Why not put two competing proposals, with comparable costs for both turf and a new high quality natural grass field proposal in front of voters and let them choose? Why the obsession with artificial turf fields?

Did the FAC consider more than the initial installation costs? Did they factor the disposal and replacement costs for an artificial turf field? Did they get and review information related to the costs for regular upkeep and equipment needed? Did they factor the use of cleansing agents on the turf field and the impact on the surrounding watershed area? Did they look into the possible impact on insurance related costs i.e. for injuries and possible damage to the turf? I've read the committee minutes and find nothing on any of these topics so if not in the minutes then when and where was any of this discussed and if not, why not? If it was then it would help the debate to know what the answers are to these and other questions.