WHS Track Progress, Park Benches and Holiday Drive-Thru Bring Optimism to Parks & Rec

COVID-19 has put a damper on some of the typical programming and activities that the Parks and Recreation Commission is used to discussing. However, members were able to share some optimistic news during Wednesday night’s (Dec. 9) meeting about ongoing construction plans for the Wilton High School Track as well as other proposals.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Pierce provided the commission with details on the timeline of the construction project, citing COVID’s impact on typical spring activities and sports schedules as the main variable.

For example, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference could possibly postpone the start of the spring sports season, causing the end of the season to overlap with the beginning of track construction.

Pierce said his department will need to work out details with the Board of Education and the WHS athletic director to navigate any potential scheduling changes or conflicts when the time comes. 

“We’re going to talk about what happens if we have spring sports, what happens if we don’t, and during that time period, we’re going to have to have a firm commitment from the Board of Education as to what they can or cannot do. Will they frontload all their home games? Will they frontload all their track meets so that gives us more time on the back end?”

He estimated that if all spring sports are canceled, track construction would begin in early April and conclude no later than late June.

If spring sports do take place, the construction is planned to start on June 14 (the day after high school graduation) and conclude by mid-September.

Pierce explained there is a one-month waiting period during the construction process during which the asphalt is curing but is completely safe to walk on and to use the field. Members of the commission discussed whether construction could begin immediately after the spring sports season ends if graduation is scheduled later that same month.  

“If you move [the construction start] forward, you’re not really affecting graduation even with aesthetics because, if we were able to get the asphalt down before then, you’re just going to have a black surface like there is now except without lines on it,” Pierce said, explaining how the new asphalt surface would look similar to the current track. 

The discussion added a hopeful feeling for the commission, and Pierce expressed his excitement for the project.

“It’s actually nice to work on something moving forward in this COVID world we’re living in so I appreciate everyone’s input and it’s going to be something that’s really great for the community.”

In more potential good news, Parks and Rec commissioner Joseph Guglielmo proposed an idea to add new park benches to selected locations around town. He suggested that if funded by individual donations and gifted to the town through Parks and Rec, these benches would hopefully encourage more use of the town’s outdoor areas. The commission discussed Allen’s Meadows and the head of some hiking trails as possible placement locations. They plan to contact the Board of Selectmen about beginning this process, aiming for a start in the Spring. 

One other event the Parks and Rec team will look forward to is a Holiday drive-through in the works for next Friday, Dec. 18, at 4-6:30 p.m. at Comstock Community Center. Parks and Rec staff will remain socially distant while passing out candy canes and there will be prizes for the top three best-decorated cars.

“We’ve made a call to the North Pole and Santa said he can come down, I think the Grinch may show up and it should be a lot of fun,” Pierce announced, adding that more information will be released tomorrow by town officials.