The Wilton Athletic and Recreation Foundation (WARF) has sent First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice and the Board of Selectmen (BOS) a letter of intent, formally pledging to help support the cost of a new, artificial turf field.

The letter puts in concrete terms exactly what WARF is committed to providing in terms of financial contribution to the proposed new turf field at Allen’s Meadow and the infrastructure needed to support an eventual seasonal bubble.

As WARF’s leaders have verbally promised since March, the letter states WARF’s “intent” to fundraise $500,000 toward the project’s cost, with the understanding that the scope of the project would include: “a 255’ x 405’ organic-infill, state-of-the-art turf field surface with shock padding, 4 to 6 60-70’ poles with LED lights, multisport field lining, replacement fencing (as necessary), plus associated drainage, utilities, plantings and gravel parking lot modifications to accommodate the full Project scope, together with all design and approvals for the Project.”

WARF says it will contribute $180,000 for the cost of the field construction.

The scope of the project would also include the infrastructure needed (such as grade beams, utility pads and conduits, etc.) to support an eventual seasonal bubble. That infrastructure work would take place at the time of field construction.

According to the letter, “100% of the costs of the Infrastructure Work will be paid by WARF using the remainder of the WARF Contribution ($320,000), plus additional funds required, if any, should the cost of the Infrastructure Work exceed $320,000.”

The letter also states that if the cost of the infrastructure work is less than $320,000, WARF will contribute the remaining donations to help offset more of the field costs.

WARF’s entire contribution would be contingent on voter approval for the Town to bond the balance of the cost.

The vote will take place at tonight’s (Tuesday, May 2) Annual Town Meeting and Saturday’s (May 6) adjourned vote.

What Exactly Is On The Ballot?

The Board of Selectmen has proposed bonding the cost of the new field, up to $1,935,000. Voters may vote yes or no for the turf field — separately from other questions, such as the Board of Education budget.

Unlike the BOS and BOE budgets which require a minimum 15% voter turnout to be rejected, the bonding referendums are decided based on total yes or no votes.

The turf field is Question 3 on the ballot.

“Shall the resolution appropriating up to $1,935,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and installation of a turf field at Allen’s Meadow, and authorizing the issuance of up to $1,935,000 bonds of the Town to meet said appropriation be approved?”

The cost of the seasonal bubble infrastructure is not included in the Town’s borrowing. If the bubble is eventually added, WARF is expected to bear the cost.

Credit: Town of Wilton, Bond Referendums presentation, May 2, 2023

A sample ballot and more details on the turf bonding referendum (and all of the proposed bonding referendums) can be found on the Town website.

If approved by voters at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting, the bonding would not occur until next spring. Although some residents have expressed concern that WARF’s “intent” to contribute falls short of a guarantee to do so, Vanderslice has publicly stated that the bonding would not take place until 2024 — and only if WARF has come through with its promised contribution.

Have more questions about the Annual Town Meeting?

3 replies on “WARF Puts $500,000 Pledge in Writing as Selectmen Await Voters’ Decision on Proposed Turf Field”

  1. I’m a little annoyed at the repeated insistence that the turf field will not affect the school budget. While ostensibly they’re different items, they nevertheless both contribute to our mill rates, and if the Board of Finance decided a mill rate increase was too high, since they can’t cut bond payments, that money would have to come out of somewhere else, and that ‘somewhere else’ would most likely the Board of Education budget.

    So yes, this absolutely could affect school budgets, and anybody who suggests otherwise is misleading you. If the Board of Finance adopted something like my proposal for standardizing school budget adjustments ( then the argument that the turf field would not affect our schools might be valid, but under our present “vibes”-based budgeting system, money we commit to bond payments is money we might not be able to spend on other things.

  2. Wait a minute… Are we no longer concerned that the turf is toxic or with the cost of upkeep of these fields? Quite frankly, I would prefer the money coming from the school budget because we spend too much money on the school system as it is. Let the Board get their priorities straight when thinking about how to spend money. Do we want smart kids or do we want toxic turf & sick kids? Hmmm… Maybe if they stopped allocating my tax dollars to these frivolous expenses, we could all have our property taxes reduced. When I went to Wilton HS, we did not have all of these fields and survived just fine. I am sure every other town in the area survives without them as well.

    1. Personally, I’m worried about toxicity and maintenance costs too, but I’m willing to admit to some degree of uncertainty there; forming an opinion about the turf field based on finances is easier because it’s unambiguous.

      (but for what it’s worth, the Board of Education had nothing to do with this field – I believe Dr. Smith was inaccurate when he stated that the field would not affect school funding, because bonding and school spending are both part of the overall spending considered by the Board of Finance, but the Board of Education itself had no say in the matter, and it seems extremely unlikely they’d have chosen to $2M to this project if they did)

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