Stonington Board of Finance seeking answers on new athletic complex

Stonington - Board of Finance members agreed Wednesday that they want to see a memorandum of understanding between the town and school system that would specify who would have the ultimate responsibility for maintenance and scheduling before they agree to send a $2.5 million plan to upgrade the high school athletic complex to a referendum vote on Oct. 17.

School and town officials plan to immediately begin working out an agreement.

Finance board members praised the work of the Athletic Fields Task Force which has recommended installing artificial turf on the football field, making repairs to the existing grass fields and making other improvements to the athletic complex.

The task force was formed because the softball, all-purpose, soccer and field hockey fields all flood and are deteriorating. The problems have been exacerbated by heavy use of the fields, not just by high school teams but by recreation programs, youth teams, residents and outside groups.

If voters approve the plan, Public Works Director Joe Bragaw said the time frame will be tight but the artificial turf field could be installed by next August and the grass field improvements done by next fall.

Bragaw also outlined a $4.45 million plan to repair 49 town roads totaling 25.3 miles. A total of $3.45 million would be bonded and combined with the athletic fields borrowing. Residents will vote on the $5.9 million bond package at the referendum. The remaining $1 million for the road work is money left in the 2011-12 budget.

Because Bragaw said that it would take $14 million to do all the needed road repairs, his department has surveyed all the town's roads and prioritized which ones will be done first. The work would take place over a four-year period.

The board also agreed to ask the Board of Selectmen to send an $89,807 supplemental appropriation used to repair West Broad Street School sprinkler system to an Oct. 9 town meeting vote.

The board also appointed Retirement Committee member and former Planning and Zoning Commission member June Strunk to fill the remaining time of Andy Rines' term. Rines died last month. When Wednesday night's meeting began the board held a moment of silence to honor Rines.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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