After raising questions about late-night lighting, protection of the nearby cross country course, and drainage and possible pollution from adding another crumbed rubber field at the high school site, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday night, Feb. 5, to support plans to rebuild and upgrade the practice football at Tiger Hollow.
The practice football field would be made an all-weather artificial turf field, lighted, and lined for use by several sports. Plans are to have it used by both high school teams and youth sports.
The commission’s decision, following a public hearing that heard concern from one neighbor, was not final. The commission on Tuesday night voted to have Town Planner Betty Brosius draft a resolution of approval on the project, which will come back before the commission for final vote — probably next Tuesday.
The commissioners asked that three concerns be addressed in the resolution:
• They want lights off at the field by 11, meaning practices or games should be over by 10:30 and the half-hour light dimming procedure started;
• The commission is requiring that a drainage pipe be extended at least 15 feet beyond the cross country course, so it discharges storm water safely on the downhill side of the running path;
• No trees are to be cut down outside the current fence that surrounds the field. The plans had shown an area outside the fence cleared for retrieval of balls kicked through the goal posts, but the tree cutting will be replaced with a netting to prevent balls from going in the woods.
One neighbor raised concerns about the plan.
“I’m very concerned about the fake turf, the effect it has on the water,” said Marian Gioles of 123 Ridgebury Road, adjacent to the field.
Tiger Hollow Committee said that all metals were removed from the crumbed rubber in the process of turning automobile tires into fill for the playing surface. The process involves both repeated washing and the use of powerful magnets to gather the metals, they said.
Although the Tiger Hollow Committee had asserted that the new lighting system in use today at the main football field created less light pollution than the old system, Ms. Gioles said the lights seemed like a problem.
“The present lighting system for the same field is very intense,” she said. “You can see if for miles around.”
The plan to put artificial turf and night lighting on the practice football field, just beside Tiger Hollow stadium, would involve four additional light poles the same height as those there now — 70 feet — but with 11 rather than 14 “heads” on each pole.
Lighting was also an issue for commission member John Katz who, though not a near neighbor, lives farther out Ridgebury Road.
“I’ve never been offended by the lights when there’s somebody on the field,” Ms. Katz said.
Frequently, though, he drives by when the field are empty — no kids playing — and the lights are still on. That bothers him.
“I’ve driven past there on a regular basis, late, when it’s brightly lit,” he said, “and there nobody on it.”
The practice field project is expected to cost about $1.2 million, which the Tiger Hollow Committee has said it will raise privately.
The committee was represented at the hearing by Chairman Tom Galione, Vice Chairman Chris Santini, attorney Bob Jewell, engineer Steve Trinkaus, and a representative of the company that makes the turf field product they plan to use.