I am writing to make the Norwalk community aware of the major renovation planned for the Brien McMahon softball field at 288 Highland Ave.
Parks and Recreation intends to cover the natural grass with artificial turf, and surround the field with five 60 foot tall light towers, similar to the ones on the fields in the back of the school. Three towers will be positioned directly facing Highland from the school side, and there will be two towers on the Highland side directly across and towering over our homes.
I spent this afternoon walking up and down the street, knocking on doors and making sure that my neighbors are aware of these plans, and the zoning meeting tonight discussing the plan. The agenda, viewable here lists only five homeowners that were told about the plan. Homeowners that were not contacted include the house right next door to me, literally 10 paces from the position of one of the 60-foot towers!
Heretofore, the integration of the school into the existing residential neighborhood along Highland Avenue has been a model of how a school and a residential community can co-exist. This is a verdant and beautiful street, lined on both sides with trees. Unfortunately, the department of Recreation and Parks, and I can only assume that the school is in agreement, has chosen to abandon that model in pursuit of an intrusive plastic eyesore in front of the school. If this plan goes forward, it is going to fundamentally destroy the balance of the Highland Avenue community. It is unfathomable how anyone can view this plan favorably, and it is equally shocking that they have chosen to do this with as little communication to the public as possible.
As a parent of two teenage girls, one at Roton and one at BMHS, I understand the need for better facilities and opportunities for our daughters to participate in sports; that is NOT the issue. The issue is that the front of the school on Highland Avenue is not the place this, and if it goes forward, it will damage the residential quality of this neighborhood. There are rules in place to protect us from this type of development, but if the school and the Parks Commission can sweep those rules aside in darkness, then those rules and those protections have no meaning.
When there were plans to build a home on Farm Creek in Rowayton, that community had signs up opposing it and calling attention to it on every lawn up and down their streets. I believe that kind of action is what we need here, but we don’t have a civics association like theirs to protect our interests. We need to change that quickly.
James A. Wehrle