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Norwalk council gives $3.1 million Nathan Hale expenditure a green light

NORWALK, Conn. – The lights at a new turf-covered athletic field will be going off a little bit sooner than expected in a move initiated at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting by two East Norwalk council members.

The council voted unanimously to approve the $3.1 million expenditure for an athletic field renovation at Nathan Hale Middle School, reversing last week’s action of the Zoning Commission as they did it. While the commission put an amendment into its approval of the lighting planned for the fields to require that the lights go out at 9:30 p.m., the lights are now approved to go out at 9 p.m., due to an amendment sponsored by Councilman John Kydes (D-District C), Common Councilwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C), Councilman Glenn Iannacone (R-At Large) and Common Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A).

This was in response to comments from the neighbors of the field. Richard Kestanbaum was among those who spoke, citing an “enormous potential for abuse” of the rules for the field. Kestenbaum said the plans were completely in violation of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which calls for protecting neighborhoods and protecting property values.

Kydes said he had been looking at the project from both points of view as he is a father of two young children, but as a council member he felt the residents’ concerns needed to be addressed. Maggio also said she had children who would use the fields but felt for the neighbors.

“We thought if it would be comparable to sundown on a later, longer day then it wouldn’t really affect the residents with the light as much,” she said, of the 9 p.m. cut-off.

Maggio said an ad-hoc committee would be formed with neighbors to meet with Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee on a regular basis to address concerns of the residents. Committee Chairman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) promised to be accommodating.

“This is just hopefully the beginning of symbiotic relationship between the kids and the neighbors,” Petrini said. “Adjustments may be made at any time… if there are any problems in the future we will discuss it.”

“You are a man of your word and I believe you when you say that if neighbors in the area have some issues they will be addressed,” Kydes said.

Mayor Harry Rilling addressed the audience.

“One thing I have learned in my tenure is that even though the neighbors come and perhaps the vote doesn’t go in the way that you wish you would go… I am really impressed with the council members who truly take to heart what the public says,” Rilling said. “It is factored into all their decisions.”

 

Comments

10 responses to “Norwalk council gives $3.1 million Nathan Hale expenditure a green light”

  1. LWitherspoon

    Is this part of the capital budget? Will the City be borrowing money to finance it?

  2. DeeeeMoooo

    Artificial turf, lights for night games, more ball fields.
    .
    Over $3 million that isn’t being spent on textbooks or teachers, pothole repairs or rusty pole replacements.
    .
    Over $3 million dollars of tax revenue that will never be paid back, in part or in full, by user fees or any other source?
    .
    Where is the outrage from the obsessed anti-golf people? Oops, correction: I mean the, “we can’t allow the golf course to borrow money when we have so many higher priorities, but this isn’t about me obsessing on golf because I know some people who play golf” people?
    .
    Where are the pontifications about our mixed-up priorities?

  3. One and Done

    Wow, we must be rolling in it. Why stop here? Let’s piss away another 9 million on the other three middle schools. How have the poor children of this city lived so long without lighted turf fields is beyond me.

  4. Joe

    $3 Million for a middle school lighted baseball field?

    With big spending republicans like this, who needs democrats?

    We’re sunk in Norwalk.

  5. One and Done

    Harry Rilling said….“I’m not in favor of taking on more financial obligations for the city at this time.”
    .
    That’s what he said in response to the grant Oak Hills is about to get. Too bad he didn’t feel that way when it comes to a project we could have done without here.
    .
    How can you possibly tell Hartford we need more ECS money when you just pissed away $3 million on one middle school so that people could play baseball an extra hour a night in the summer?
    .
    If only a few neighbors were vocal, what about those too busy to pay attention. You know the ones who work night and day to pay mortgages in a quiet little neighborhood who’s property values were just flushed away? So we can play soccer or whatever until 9pm as opposed to say 8pm when it gets dark out on an average summer night.
    .
    What kind of message does this send to the kids in our band for example who have to come up with their own money just to serve our city proudly. We can’t give the NHS band $100,000 a year that covers 100s of children, but we can give $3 million a year to a few sports leagues. By the way the band doesn’t even have lights on the parking lot they get to practice on in the dark.
    .
    We spent $3 million on the outside of a school, when the insides of schools are falling apart. You know the place where children spend most of their time while at school. Are all the schools properly secured now? Bullet proof glass? Metal detectors? Surveillance systems? How about basic things like air conditioners?
    .
    How about fixing up all of the ball fields for a few hundred grand a piece so that people don’t have to play at night in neighborhoods. Taken a look at the deplorable shape some of these are in?
    .
    The most disgusting part about this is how it was unanimously voted on. Vote every single one of these people out next year. They are a disgrace to this city.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @One and Done

      The $3.1M covers the lights and the purchase and installation of artificial turf (from our story):

      Norwalk council gives $3.1 million Nathan Hale expenditure a green light

      “NORWALK, Conn. – The lights at a new turf-covered athletic field will be going off a little bit sooner than expected in a move initiated at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting by two East Norwalk council members. The council voted unanimously to approve the $3.1 million expenditure for an athletic field renovation at Nathan Hale Middle School, reversing last week’s action of the Zoning Commission as they did it.”

      The story unfortunately focused almost exclusively on the lights, which had been the subject of controversy in a previous story, and did not break down the expenses. According to the Council agenda:

      Authorize the Purchasing Director to issue a Purchase Order to Turf Products LLC Project #3430 Toro
      Groundsmaster 360 for an amount not to exceed $22,972.80 …

      Authorize the Mayor, Harry W. Rilling to enter into an agreement with Field Turf USA, Inc. (sole source) for the Synthetic Turf Surface at the Nathan Hale Middle School for a total not to exceed $905,993.07.

      Authorize the Mayor, Harry W. Rilling to enter into an agreement with Turco Golf Inc. for the
      Athletic Field Renovation at Nathan Hale Middle School for a total not to exceed $2,072,179.00.

      Authorize the Director of Recreation and Parks to issue change order to TBD for project #3436 Athletic
      Field Renovation at Nathan Hale Middle School for a sum not to exceed $125,000.

  6. Suzanne

    As an individual who does not support financing Oak Hills with a grant or in kind loan or not meeting past debt service (in addition to remediating oil tank leakage), I don’t particularly agree with this expense either. (See? One can not agree with one thing and not agree with another and be a pragmatist about these things.) I still wonder, if the golf course is meeting its expenses through fees as stated by the OHPA, why do they need to monetize it further with a driving range? And, why can’t kids play until its dark and be done with it? Artificial turf isn’t even healthy. Plenty of kids leagues throughout the country do not have artificial turf or lighting at night (heck, MLB stadiums didn’t have night lighting for a very long time.) Spending this money on this field feels like entitlement as much as spending taxpayer’s money or state grant money on the golf course. The kids don’t need this more than they need classroom funding and the golfers don’t need a private club where a beautiful public course exists.

  7. One and Done

    @Mark. I am aware of the full scope of the project and am totally incensed. Taxpayers who took the brunt of the $10 million increase in taxes won’t be happy either to find out we have money to give collegiate level facilities to middle schools when the city has much more pressing needs. Half the school lots are similar to lunar surfaces and we’re spending ridiculous money on fields and lights. It’s insane. And so is this council.

  8. LWitherspoon

    @Mark and Nancy
    .
    What portion of the $3.1 million is for lights and what portion is for the artificial turf? I wonder what the cost would be if the artificial turf portion of the project were omitted.

  9. Mark Chapman

    @L Witherspoon

    According to a purchasing department document detailing the bids I located online, the lighting portion of the $3.1M is $340,387. The turf itself, according to the agenda item, is about $906,000.

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