Neighbors oppose Little League field proposal
Neighbors are heavily against the proposed Little League field at the intersection of Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike, and they made it clear during the special permit application’s first public hearing Tuesday night.
Seven people spoke against the field, all of them recalling a truck accident 13 years ago.
“We all lived in that neighborhood, we all remember that truck accident, it was pretty horrific,” resident Christopher Odnick told the room of about 60 people.
“A truck traveling 60 mph is 88 feet per second. The dugout is 45 to 50 feet off the road, which gives you less than a second to react to get out of the way. …
“This will increase traffic and the probability that something like this happens again, but this time it will be more tragic,” Odnick said. “Children will be involved.”
The traffic expert hired by the Little League, Garrett Bolella, said an accident report from the Police Commission shows five reported accidents in the last three years and nine months.
Little League President Steve Scalzo gave a presentation, along with a team of engineers — spearheaded by project engineer Philip Doyle. Attorney Bob Jewell, who outlined minimal impacts from light, traffic and noise, told the room it was “probably the most thorough and complete application I have ever seen.”
The hearing was continued to Tuesday, June 6.
‘Tragedy waiting to happen’
According to the traffic analysis presented by traffic engineer Bolella, there would be a separate exit and entry to the facility that would minimize traffic impact. The plan is also to schedule games 30 to 45 minutes apart to unburden the site’s parking lot.
During weekday afternoon peak arrivals, Bolella estimated, there would be 38 vehicle trip ends, and on Saturday early games, departure and arrivals would total 58 trip ends.
Scalzo said this would happen only six months out of the year during Little League season — April to August, and September through the first week of October.
Neighbors retorted that the traffic impact is being downplayed — especially the danger.
“This field is in the wrong place. How fast do the cars go on Route 7? I see it says 40 mph,” said Ridgefielder James Russell.
He asked those in the room who believed this speed limit was enforced to raise a hand. Nobody did.
“People will park on Ashbee [Lane] — that parking lot is going to get full,” Russell continued.
“They will try to walk down Route 7. Do any of you remember that truck accident where the tanker exploded? This is a tragedy waiting to happen.
“I don’t want to hear the screams of the parents, the ambulance …”
The project’s noise expert, Edward Potenta, said he measured decibels from a typical Little League baseball game with a loudspeaker, like the one planners want to install at the new field.
He told the room that, at the property line, the noise from the loudspeaker would be 50 decibels, which is five decibels lower than the required regulations for daytime use and five decibels higher than nighttime stipulations.
But neighbors didn’t believe the noise levels wouldn’t affect them.
“When you’re elevated, such as I am, sound magnifies,” said Ridgefield resident Glen Santoro.
“When traffic dies down from commuters is when my family enjoys peacefulness of our property.
Bringing more noise, without the background noise, actually makes it worse.”
A presentation on the six LED lights that would be used showed pictures of lights facing downward that would illuminate only the field.
“The ability for people nearby to see the light source is also important,” said Michael Mahoney, the project’s light expert from Musco Lighting.
He said the field lights to be installed would be about 71 times less intense than a regular 100-watt desk lamp.
Neighbors were also skeptical with this part of the presentation.
“LED is not this special lightbulb that is going to stop at the edge of the field,” said Redding electrician Tim Kisco. “I just found the credibility to be off.”
More people cheering
Joseph Walsh, a former Little League president, said the league really does need more fields.
“If you have a practice scheduled and it rains, guess what? No practice,” he said.
Walsh said Little League games aren’t as noisy as neighbors believe.
“We tried to build two fields, but neighbors called, there was an article in the paper that I was cutting down trees, that there was noise. …
“There are 11 kids on a team, only their parents come to the game. They arrive at 5 p.m., they leave at 7 p.m. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I wish there were more people cheering.”