Seeking additional information, the Board of Selectmen has delayed a decision on whether to bring the Lawton Road fields/rail trail plan to the town’s land-use boards.
Wednesday night, Brian Wilson, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, provided selectmen with an update on the proposal to develop a portion of 17-acre town-owned parcel at 55 Lawton Road as recreational space.
The plan calls for a full-sized youth sports playing field, a smaller practice area with parking in the middle. It would also facilitate a 1,200 linear-foot portion of the Farmington River trail. Officials eventually hope to complete the “loop” back to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Simsbury. It currently ends which currently ends at the edge of the CVS parcel on Lawton Road.
“(The plan) maximizes the level space we have on the property,” Wilson said.
Projected cost for the fields, including engineering, site work and other details is $768,742. The trails portion is estimated at $339,174 and town officials feel that grant opportunities could provide as much as 80 percent of that funding.
The parks and rec department is hoping selectmen agree to bring the project forward for land-use approval. No funding has been committed but approvals would allow the town to start putting aside money and/or come up with other funding ideas, Wilson said. Approvals would also give the town several years to complete the plan, Wilson added.
At the beginning of the Wednesday meeting, residents and a few parks and Recreation Commission members and other residents urged selectmen to support the plan. Many said field space is at a premium, often causing problems with scheduling, overuse and lack of space.
“All the (youth) sports are growing,” said Ken Haller, a resident who has been actively involved in the Canton Youth Soccer Association. “We need this kind of space for kids to play.”
Selectmen, however, wanted additional information before making a decision.
While First Selectman Richard Barlow briefly noted that the property is not completely off the table in the town’s search for a highway garage, but said his main concern was irrigation.
Time and time again, Barlow said, he hears that irrigation is a major issue with current fields and wants to see how much it would cost to add a system to the plan.
Steve Roberto agreed and added that he also wanted to see estimated prices for parking lot lighting.
“I would want this field to be a top-quality field,” Roberto said.