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Final Hurdle Cleared? Artificial Turf Project Design Approved

May 19, 2011 by Josh Morgan

The turf field project took a major step forward on Tuesday night following the Cheshire Town Council's approval of the preliminary design.
Following the 5-3 Council vote, the preliminary design was approved and the Turf Committee can now begin requesting proposals from manufacturers and installers. This is just another step is the process of getting the field built behind Cheshire High School, according to Bob Behrer, chairman of the Turf Committee.
"This is a step forward in the process," he said. "I feel good. Every time we've had a vote, it's been affirmative. We are going to build this."
The approval came two hours after the meeting began, following a presentation from consultant Milone and MacBroom with lots of questions from the Council. David Dixon, a landscape architect with Milone and MacBroom, said that, when the turf field is installed, it will be 195 feet wide and 360 feet long. Those dimensions would allow for all sporting events and other activities, as drainage would be improved and would not pose a tripping hazard. The field will also be lined with dimensions for other sports, like lacrosse, he said.
He noted that, initially after installation, the field will have to be maintained with a special roller machine every three weeks, which will be purchased from the turf installer. Yearly maintenance costs are expected to be approximately $5,000 a year, he said.
The Council approved the resolution 5-3, with Democrats Michael Ecke and Patti Flynn-Harris supporting the motion, as well as Republicans Steve Carroll, Andy Falvey, and Tim Slocum. Republican David Schrumm, Tom Ruocco, and James Sima opposed.
The full page resolution was worded in such a way to offer the Town the most control when it comes to the turf field. The Public Building Commission and Turf Committee will proceed in two sequential steps. First, the Request For Proposal will be sent out, with the expectation that seven or eight turf manufacturers and installers will respond. At that time, the Committee will sort through the proposals to find the offer that is "most advantageous to the Town," the motion reads.
Then, in step two, the Committee will solicit bids from general contractors for the site improvements at the field. This includes the removal of the existing field, installing new drainage, and preparing the base for the turf carpet. These bids will not include offers to install the turf, as that would have been covered in step one.
Milone and MacBroom designed the process in this way to assure that the Town receives the best product at the best price, representatives explained. It was their experience that dealing with turf installers directly, rather than having much of the work outsourced by a general contractor, provides the best results.
Sima questioned who would be responsible for the warranty and worried that, if there was an issue at the field, it would become a he said/he said game. Milone and MacBroom explained that both parties would have to sign off on the work being done and would be involved in all the steps along the way.
Also included in the motion was the allocation of $150,000 to redo the south D Zone at the field. This is the location behind the goal posts where high jumpers compete. The money comes from a 2009/2010 Capital Budget Appropriation that was intended to be used to resurface the track. However, the money would not have been enough to complete the whole project and staff felt it was better used at the D Zone until more funds are secured.
Sima felt that the D Zone was only being completed because of the field turf project, something he believed went against a motion approved in December. In that motion, it was stated that no town monies would be used on the turf project. However, the Town Attorney and fellow Councilors felt differently and the motion was approved shortly thereafter.
Behrer explained after the meeting that the group has raised about $250,000 for the project. Coupled with a $525,000 state grant, the Committee has secured what it believes to be enough money for the project. Estimates place the costs of the new field at around $700,000, but actual numbers will be learned in the coming weeks.
Falvey said that the Town is getting an "excellent bargain" thanks to the Committee raising money.
"The Town of Cheshire will get a new field without having to pay for it. There will be no impact on taxpayers," he said. "We are getting an excellent bargain here."
Ruocco said he has not been in favor of the project from the beginning and, after talking with residents, doesn't believe there is support for the turf outside of a select few.
"I don't think this is something the public wants," he said.
Flynn-Harris said she has heard negative comments as well, but believes that they come from people who have not been to the field in years and don't understand how bad of condition it's in. She also said it would have other uses besides football, such as Relay For Life and Music In Motion.
Carroll said he is comfortable with the project moving forward because the Turf Committee has answered all the questions and removed the unknowns from the project.
"To this point, it's been done very well and very right," he said. "This will give us a low maintenance facility for years and, in the long run, this is a good deal for the Town."
Behrer said the proposals would be crafted in the coming days and the hope is to hear back from installers in the next few weeks.
Ideally, the field would be installed this summer and completed by October, as not to disrupt any athletic events, he said.
"I'm pleased we're moving along," Behrer stated.

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