Upcoming COVID restriction rollbacks look good for the Parks and Recreation Commission as it plans for the summer. The commission discussed spring and summer programs, preliminary dates for track replacement, and the status of the indoor field house project during last Tuesday’s meeting (March 9). 

Parks and Rec Programs

Parks and Rec Director Steve Pierce explained that the COVID restrictions set to be lifted on Friday, March 19, and in early April will impact upcoming programs for the better.

Pierce said he was “still trying to go through everything that the state has put out and only in the typical state style there are contradictory pieces from each different department”. 

Although Pierce is still waiting for Wilton Health Director Barry Bogle to approve the COVID-19 protocols and plans he submitted, residents are able to sign up for some spring and summer programs now on the Town of Wilton Recreation website. Some of these programs include summer camps for kids, which are subject to Connecticut Office of Early Childhood guidelines that have not been released yet.

Pierce could not provide exact dates but the workout rooms and outdoor basketball courts at Comstock will be open to the public soon. [Editor’s Note:  On Sunday evening, March 14, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice commented on multiple Facebook posts about the basketball courts, and said they would be open as of March 19.]

CIAC recently released its final spring sports plan but individual youth sports teams are still required to submit their plans to the Wilton Health Department. Pierce said some close-impact sports like lacrosse will require their players to wear masks, but he expected all sports “will be a go.”

Pierce said to expect more announcements in the next week. He promised, “I can tell you they’re coming. Programs are coming.”

Track Replacement

Pierce also presented the commission with preliminary dates for the track replacement project. At the suggestion of the Wilton track coaches and Wilton High School Athletic Director Chris McDougal, track reconstruction will begin and end earlier than anticipated.

The first phase will start on Monday, March 29, weather-permitting. This phase includes removing and disposing of the current track surface, removing the underlying asphalt, and laying down new blacktop surface. Pierce expects this phase to be finished by Tuesday, April 13. The blacktop surface then has to solidify for 30 days, a process that Pierce noted would last past the end of the school year and graduation. While the blacktop sits, the turf will still be usable and the track area will be bridged to provide safe access to the field.

The second phase is set to begin on Monday, June 21, and last two- to three weeks. The track and turf will be closed for the duration of this phase as the running surface is installed and lines are painted on the track. There will be people monitoring the area to make sure no residents trespass during this time. With no delays, the entire track should be finished on Friday, July 16. 

The color scheme of the track has also been finalized. Most of the track will be painted a dark navy blue. The exchange lanes and run-up to the long and high jump pits will be Carolina blue, a color that Pierce said matched some of the existing lines on the turf perfectly.

Commission member Jennifer Kendra thanked Back the Track for the group’s donation and years-long efforts to secure a new track. “Super job and great support from them is really appreciated,” she said. 

Indoor Field House

Pierce and Parks and Rec Chair Anna Marie Bilella are planning to speak to the Board of Selectmen at this Tuesday’s (March 16) meeting about the $45,000 feasibility survey offered by Stantec that was discussed during the last Commission meeting. Pierce reminded commissioners that the study would not provide them with an exact cost of the project, “but basically says, ‘yes, you can do that here and the cost would be around x‘.”

“At the end of the day it’s all going to come to dollars and cents and that’s why this study is so important. There’s a huge difference between $5 and $10 million and $20 and $30 million,” said Bilella. 

Budget, Lightning Detection Software, and AEG Clinic

Commissioners were updated that the lightning detection software system they proposed was accepted as part of the town’s budget that will be put forward by the Board of Selectmen. In May, the town plans to hold a socially-distant in-person budget meeting in the stadium after the blacktop is done as part of this year’s budget approval process.

Additionally, an AED, donated by the organization In a Heartbeat was officially accepted as a gift to the town. As part of In a Heartbeat’s program, a clinic offering free ECG screening for youth athletes by cardiologists is tentatively planned for Thursday, May 6.