After a referendum to bond the cost for a new turf field at Allen’s Meadow was narrowly defeated by voters at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) is beginning to formulate its next steps.
As GOOD Morning Wilton previously reported, the board is considering surveying residents in order to better understand why the proposed project was rejected, and to guide future proposals that might address the need for playable sports fields.
At the Monday evening, June 5 BOS meeting, the board agreed to another step: asking the Parks and Recreation Commission to take another look at where available funds should be prioritized.
The “Two-Prong Plan”
In a memo to the selectmen in advance of the meeting, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice reminded the board about hundreds of thousands of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were approved — but not yet spent — for field improvements.
“In late 2021/early 2022, the then-Parks and Recreation Commission submitted priorities for ARPA funds. Included in those requests were $700,000 towards a new turf field and $700,000 for the initial funding of a multi-year plan to fund drainage and irrigation of the five Middlebrook grass fields. In mid-2022, we decided to 1) request bonding to fully fund a new turf field and 2) earmark $500,000 of ARPA funds as initial funding of a multi-year plan for the Middlebrook grass fields.”
Vanderslice picked up the topic at the June 5 BOS meeting.
“We heard about the needs [for playing fields] long before June 2022,” Vanderslice said. “We’ve known about it and we pulled together a plan of how we thought we would address it: through a [third] turf field and putting money into Middlebrook [field improvements].”
“That plan is not happening… We had a two-prong plan, and one prong is gone,” Vanderslice said.
Vanderslice recommended going back to the Parks and Recreation Commission, asking commissioners “to reconsider priorities” given the fact that the bonding referendum did not pass.
Underlying the approach is the fact the Commission has several new members.
“We have a new commission. Let’s let them look at it,” Vanderslice suggested. “We know we have $500,000… assume that’s all you get, where would you prioritize $500,000 for playing fields? That’s really the question for [the Commission].”