Maintaining sports schedules and school and town athletic fields in light of two major construction projects – renovation of the Walsh Intermediate School and the Community Center – is a big juggling act.
Recreation director Alex Palluzzi, Jr., a self-described “field guy,” takes pride in his hands-on approach toward the fields; it’s a cooperative effort between the schools, the Recreation Department, and the Public Works Department.
Several parents expressed concern about the fields in town at a recent Public Building Commission meeting, but the problem centers around the fields at Walsh where drainage has been poor and use of the fields will be impacted by the upcoming renovation project for about two years.
Palluzzi said the fields and the pool at Walsh will not be accessible as of June 13, when construction starts.
But he expects that the field in question will be restored once the building is completed. He “guesstimates” that $2 million will be needed to include lights, turf, and track, describing it as his “dream.” He hopes that funds will be left over from the project’s contingency fund, adding that there has already been interest in donations. Typically, he said, a school’s athletic fields are dealt with once a project is completed, such as with the new Guilford High School; he also cited Cheney Tech in Manchester as a good example of such a project.
The pool at Walsh will be closed until Sept. 1, he said, due to construction of the parking lots. Swim lessons will be held at the Hospice pool, and seniors who have used the Walsh pools will also have access there. Residents will also have access to the pool at the Soundview YMCA.
Other Fields in Good Shape
Palluzzi said that the other fields in town are well maintained and that people do come from all over to play.
He said he follows a regime of organic land care and uses no pesticides, which has resulted state and regional awards. Along with the athletic fields, the town green is also included in the maintenance; mowing takes place two to three times a week.
Palluzzi described the various fields in town. School sports are played on town fields, in addition to school-associated fields, he said.
He said that the multi-purpose field at the high school was redone about 20 years ago to include lights and is used for field hockey, soccer, football, and baseball.
Sliney field, which is adjacent to Foote Park, has six baseball fields and three soccer fields. Palluzzi said Little League tournaments from all over the state are played there. It’s separate from Foote Park, which was in bad shape, and has since been renovated. Tennis and girls’ field hockey are played there. Football is played at Hammer Field.
Veterans Park, off Brushy Plains Road, was redone last year, he said, and includes lights. Soccer and basketball are played and there is a playground. Palluzzi did say that parking is limited.
In terms of indoor facilities, groups usually meeting at the Community Center will meet at Tabor Lutheran Church, Fire Headquarters, Canoe Brook Senior Center, Willoughby Wallace Library, and the VFW.
Palluzzi said he has offered input into Plan of Conservation and Development, looking at the role of recreation 10 years down the line. He added that a lot of the coordination has been done with Superintendent of School Hamlet Hernandez, Board of Education Michael Krause, and Joe Carbone, supervisor of facilities and grounds.
“We have a plan in place for everyone,” he said.