By a vote of acclamation, a group of Ellington residents approved Monday evening
a plan to spend $500,000 on the construction of a pair of athletic fields
at Santini Conservation Park.
Dozens of meeting-goers, including several school-aged children,
packed the public hearing at the Ellington Town Hall, where the issue centered on whether to approve the spending for the potential fields at the Pinney Street park, located just south of Winderemere Avenue.
Discussion and questions lasted roughly 20 minutes before the vote was taken, and while there were a few notable "nays" in the audience the vast majority voted "aye" to approve funding for the project.
With that, the town will now authorize $500,000 in bonds toward the two
athletic fields, one full-size and one U-12, according to the special town
The fields will support soccer, lacrosse, football, and parking
for 182 cars, as well as border fencing, provisions for water, sanitary sewer
and electrical services, the notice said.
One of the issues that came up was the apparent inclusion on the meeting notice of a concession stand at the field — an item the Board of Finance previously removed as one of the expenditures in the $500,000 bonding proposal.
Answering that concern, First Selectman Maurice Blanchette confirmed that the item was removed as a potential expenditure. But, depending on how much the total project costs, it's possible the concession stand could be built as long the final bill comes in under the $500,000 amount.
"We’re not certain yet," Blanchette said, answering the question from resident J. Wiley Dumas. "We may be able to fit in some aspects or some of the parts, but if there is not enough money that’s then (the concession stand funding) is where it'll come from first."
Another question that came up, from resident Penny Harrington was how much the field maintenance would cost the town. While he didn't provide an actual monetary figure, Blanchette said the town is already paying to cut the grass there now and Public Works Director Timothy Webb said additional costs would come from painting stripes on the field to accommodate different sports teams on an as-needed basis.
The Board of Finance had initially proposed spending $605,000 on the field, however that was reduced to the half a million dollars that came before the town, Blanchette said.