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Redding Voters Say No To Turf Field

On Tuesday night, Redding residents weighed in on whether to fund a $500,000 artificial turf athletic field with taxpayer dollars.

By a vote of 684 to 519 — 57 percent to 43 percent — Redding residents voted against using $500,000 of taxpayer money to fund the installation of an artificial turf playing field outside the , Town Clerk Michele Grande told Patch Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, Redding residents were asked to weigh in on whether taxpayers should fund a outside of the community center. The project was originally going to be privately funded, but after the Athletic Fields Committee failed to raise enough money privately, .

The question was originally slated to be voted on , but was .

Grande estimated about 18 percent of Redding's voters turned out to weigh in on the issue.

The outcome of the vote was the same as the , albeit closer.

Redding Parent October 05, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Ed, I take exception to your singling out of "empty nesters." For the record, I'm not an "empty nester," and I voted NO. Thisproject was not handled correctly/fairly, and luckily, it was put to a machine vote.Taxpayers, not just empty nesters, have spoken! Private monies were supposed to fund this project, as originally promised,not town monies. Get more proactive and start running some fund raisers,tag sales bake sales, car washes etc and get the kids involved. If they want it, they should be willing to work for it. I agree that coupling this project along with road repairs was ridiculous.
Another Redding Parent October 05, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Agreed with Redding Parent. I am not an empty-nester but I think it's absurd to spend $1 million on an athletic field that will not be used by the majority of the town. (If this money were going towards a town swimming pool, I'd be all for it...something that would benefit a much larger percentage of the people who live here & pay taxes here, as opposed to a small but vocal group.) Bottom line, I think team sports are completely over-emphasized for school-age children and it's become a Nuclear Arms Race (to nowhere) with towns spending money they do not have on plastic grass they do not need, in order to "keep up with" neighboring towns. Yes my kid missed a few soccer practices & games over the last few weeks due to wet fields. No I don't think that's a million-dollar problem. If you're so in love with Ridgefield, move to Ridgefield.... or raise the money privately to pay for the plastic grass. Taxpayers have to draw the line somewhere.
Another Redding Parent October 05, 2011 at 03:42 PM
....or assuming that all parents of young children MUST approve of this expenditure, which is a false assumption. I have sports-playing kids but I also have the ability to separate my personal wish-list from an economic decision and make up my own mind about this. It isn't just about what's best for me - it's about what's best for the town. I certainly hope that empty-nesters are capable of understanding that difference too, instead of retreating into one "camp" vs. another.
Casey Powell October 05, 2011 at 04:09 PM
We should also remember that both the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Board, that represent all Redding residents, voted unanimously in support of publicly funding the turf field project. Keep that in mind on Election Day.
Steve October 05, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Why don't they set their sights just a little lower? Get the field up to full size, improve drainage & cover with sod. They could probably pull that off with the 200k they already have from private funding & grant money. why do we need a professional turf stadium for these activities undertaken by only a portion of the town? I bet the town would have even tax funded another 100k if they needed it. Let's keep things realistic & not get crazy about what we could have or what others have that we don't.
pete October 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Casey, of course the roads expenditure passed, roads are a public good just like our playing fields. That's my point. To suggest that kids should hold bake sales to pay for a public good is ridiculous. Do you take this same position when RES needs money to hire more teachers?
Casey Powell October 05, 2011 at 06:11 PM
pete - your argument assumes I agree that a turf field is as important as teachers and roads. I don't, nor did 57% of those that voted last night.
Justin Reynolds (Editor) October 05, 2011 at 06:32 PM
What's the next step for the project's proponents? The Redding Athletic Fields Committee is having a special meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. in the hearing room at town hall to discuss the project's future.
Chester Burnett October 05, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Paul Winstanley, the Barlow boys' varsity soccer coach, is quoted in today's Danbury News-Times (after Barlow lost 2-1 to Newtown) as follows: "An interesting note, we were voting to have a turf field in Redding tonight, and, ironically enough, it failed. Our players are at such a disadvantage because we have no access to this surface. More and more towns -- the majority of them now -- this is what they're going to offer. The townsfolk, they don't get it, and it really bothers me. What made this country great wasn't just freedom and the right to vote, but the benevolence of what Americans used to be like. If somebody's house burned down, everybody pitched in and put it back. It wasn't just self-interest, and that's what's happened to us here. We have people in our town who will approve $14 million of open space over the last 10 years. They won't approve one penny, not one penny, for active recreation for kids."
Chester Burnett October 05, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Dear Coach Winstanley: Thank you for pronouncing me un-American for voting against the turf field. It's that type of cool-headed reasoning that makes people really want to support your cause. And please stop with the drama -- no one's house burnt down; a special interest group wanted the town to pay for something that they themselves didn't care to do the work to fund. My son played hockey at Barlow for 4 years. Along with skiing, we were (and are) the only sport that has to pay to PRACTICE, let alone play games. The school gave us the same $10k they gave to other teams, all of whom have their own free fields at school. That $10k bought our home ice game slots and ONE practice a week for 6 weeks, over a 15-week season. So what did we do? We raised money, on our own, to pay for more practice so the kids could improve. And improve they did. Now I feel foolish -- we just should've asked the town to build us a rink, then denigrate the people who would vote against it!
teacher October 05, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Redding repeatedly has the lowest SAT scores in the DRG. Maybe it's a good thing the field was defeated. Now the students can get back to studying.
Mark Guss October 06, 2011 at 12:50 AM
As an advocate for additonal playing fields in town for many years, I was disappointed in the results for a turf field at RES. As a town that does most things right, the best small town in Ct, we consistently under fund facilities for our most precious resource, our children. The benefits of atheletics are well known, yet we consistently prioritize the needs of children behind many other town requirements. While I believe our initial turf field should be funded at Barlow, any turf field would give our children added hours of play, for amost any sport, regardless of weather. I believe our town has the obligation and duty to provide additional fields, just as we fix roads, provide fire, police & educational services for our children. It is disappointing to see a town I love fail in its obligations to our young people.
adam October 06, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Mr Guss, I couldn't agree more. It was a crime that the Barlow projected didn't pass a few years ago. It is really disheartening to see how little people in this town care about athletics these days. To the people who say, "we don't need these fields", you clearly haven't stepped foot on the athletic fields at Joel Barlow. I have seen numerous athletes (friends) tear up there knee because they stepped in a pot hole on the septic field (practice field). Its 2011, field turf is a necessity. And as much as I don't like Paul Winstanley, he's 100% right. SMH, such a shame. Sincerely, An active member of the Redding athletic community
Kent October 06, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Adam, I couldn't disagree with you more. The FP project at Barlow didn't pass for a number of very good reasons many of which also apply to this RCC turf field issue, and by the way, even if it had been approved I'd wager that from 2008 to this day there would be a huge hole in the ground where the septic field was which the school would have been left to deal with (read 'taxpayers'). But that's really a comment to the promise of private funding. And as to the numerous knees that have been eaten by the Barlow septic field, only young children have been allowed to practice on that field for several years, so unless your athlete friends are young children, this sounds like another of those insubstantial 'facts' that members of the fields committee and their supporters tend to spout when the actual facts in their arguments are insufficiently compelling. More fields may well be needed in Redding, and at Barlow as well, but maybe it's time that the fields committee looked at other solutions, however imperfect they may be, than a questionably necessary artificial turf field,
Casey Powell October 06, 2011 at 09:09 AM
Not sure athletics has as much to do with the relative SAT scores than who the other DRG schools are and teaching philosophy. Reference this recent article from the Redding Pilot - Compared to other high schools in Barlow’s District Reference Group (DRG), which is used as a comparison for districts with similar demographics, Barlow scored last in each subject. Wilton scored highest in reading at 598, Darien scored highest in math at 617, and Wilton again scored highest in writing at 610. Barlow is in DRG A with Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. The DRG averaged 578 in reading, 593 in math, and 591 in writing. On average, Barlow scored 32 points below other high schools in its DRG. Mr. McMorran noted that Easton and Redding have a wider demographic than other DRG A towns, whose residents may have more access to SAT prep. School districts in those towns may also offer SAT courses, which Barlow does not. “We want kids to be taking electives and courses that are content driven,” Mr. McMorran said. By the way, all of the other DRG schools have at least one turf field.
Casey Powell October 06, 2011 at 09:16 AM
Kent - To be factual, for the last few years 7th and 8th graders have been forced to practice in the area referred to as the Septic Field. We were told this was primarily due to weather.
Another Redding Parent October 06, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Agree with Chester on "enough with the drama." To the people pointing fingers at "empty nesters" yelling "selfish" - please note that (a) many parents of sports-playing kids did NOT approve of this expenditure and (b) when you're pointing a finger at someone else, you've also got 3 fingers pointing right back at yourself. Who was really acting selfish in this situation?
Ed Larkin October 06, 2011 at 02:52 PM
For the record "empty nesters" were the majority. I realize there were others. As it is I believe in our system of government. The "pulling the wool over peoples eyes " was a bad judgement call to expedite the process. It's my understanding the added taxes would amount to $5 each annually over 20 years. About the price of a car wash or a fund raiser candy bar. Now given that info and the grants, his bad judgement call doesn't sound so irrational. Correct me if I'm wrong. Also I would like to know why is it so bad to have a corporate sponsor? Does the average household (mind you I didn't say empty nesters) feel bothered by corporate sponsorship? As for Mr. Burnett lacrosse and soccer are the leading sports programs in this town, growing yearly. I wish I could afford the thousands of dollars it cost to play hockey (I use to play). I instead chose the other 2 for my children. I'm only pointing out the numbers as it relates to the issue. And yes there are hundreds of volunteer hours/booster clubs hours devoted to these programs already. My children work hard already for what they have. Lets hope the grant money is still in place for the future and we can work out a viable way to help our local kids.The field would be well utilized because it's not such a small minority as people may believe. An active child is a healthy child.
Paul October 06, 2011 at 05:14 PM
One writer said this project was in the hopper for 10 years, way before the current economic down turn. Ten years, and you couldn't get the money together? Maybe if something were constructed that could be utilized by the WHOLE town and not just specific groups it might have passed--you know like a town pool --just like those other towns have.
g October 06, 2011 at 05:45 PM
I agree. My child goes to RES and is active in a sport. That doesn't automatically make me want this. I also don't think property values will suffer. There is a certain population which moves to Redding precisely because it offers things other than these so-called essentials and consciously shies away from towns which devote limited resources to this.
g October 06, 2011 at 05:48 PM
The "I agree" in my other post was agreeing with the posts of Redding Parent and Another Redding Parent. I guess that makes me Even Another Redding Parent. Ed Larkin is completely off base to think this is a empty nester v. families with children issue.
g October 06, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Hopefully this project is dead. Enough is enough already.
g October 06, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Good grief. Keep this guy Winstanley away from my kid! Very scary thinking.
Susanne Krivit October 06, 2011 at 06:19 PM
This is only my opinion but I would suggest three things. (1) Come to an agreement with the neighbors (2) Try to raise the money first before asking the taxpayers. (3) No more "us" and "them" stuff (i.e. empty nesters, open space etc.).
Redding Mom o' 2 October 09, 2011 at 03:04 PM
As a mother of two kids who play sports, my concerns were different from empty nesters. Redding coaches tell 7 year old kids they must "pick one sport" and play all year - Premier, Samba, Travel, Fall Ball, Ultra...the list goes on. Young children are discouraged by coaches from trying a new sport, RES families forego dinner together for late night practice, kids who are good athletes won't try their athleticism and competitive spirit in something new - at 7! Has no one wondered why the privately run ER Soccer even HAS $100,000 to donate or their expectations in return? The failure to provide any intramural soccer after second grade reflects the push to specialization & profit; telling families "then don't play" shouldnt be the option for kids who love sports! I question the failure of elected officials to prioritize money for an elementary World Languages curriculum, a gifted program in early middle school, an elementary science curriculum with lab experience, a rigorous social studies program, all items that fall to budget constraints year after year, all items enjoyed by our surrounding districts, only to prioritize a turf field this year. This referendum was a chance for my family to question the priorities of our small town, where giving kids time to be kids is a gift not an obstacle. While rain may interrupt a practice, please don't suggest that my vote was a simple refusal to give other kids a place to play! An active kid IS a healthy kid, on turf or elsewhere.
Danielle Winstanley October 13, 2011 at 12:11 PM
As a soccer player I know very well the disadvantages of not being able to practice on a turf field. Other teams practice and play on this surface so when we are forced to play them on their fields we are not used to the speed, the bounce or the rhythm of play. Not to mention the numerous other sports that would love to have this turf field and benefit from it immensely. Yes, it's true that if the kids want the field we should indeed work for it, but you're talking about an amount of money that not many kids have the time or experience to raise. We're not talking about enough money for a few practices Mr. Burnett we're talking about hundreds of thousands for a field. Those of you who would like to single out Coach Winstanley, are being ridiculous. He is not the only one who wants this field and far from the only coach or sport who wants this field. He does emphasize soccer and push players to excel, but only because he knows they are capable of so much more than settling to be average or okay. That's what this country was founded on, striving to be better and achieve more. Parents, coaches, and teachers are the people who we look up to and follow, you need to be our example of how to strive for more. And keep drama and personal vendettas to yourselves people.
Chester Burnett October 13, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Ms. Winstanley -- first, no one is singling out Coach Winstanley. He chose to make a statement he knew would be widely disseminated and dare I say, controversial, and I offered my take on that. And your statement "We're not talking about enough money for a few practices" misses the point: approximately 15 hockey families raised $20k every year for four years (and continue to do so), so that we could accomplish our goal. Imagine if all the families in Redding Soccer and RELAX combined, not even factoring in Aspetuck football (would 200 families be a fair number?) attempted to do the same? You could have $500k in a few years. It's not too late to start.
Not an Empty Nester October 15, 2011 at 04:27 AM
I'm the parent of two young children that do/will play sports, and I moved to Redding 2 years ago. I voted No on the field issue. My thoughts: 1. Ed Larkin, how do you know that "empty nesters" were the majority of the no votes? No exit polling was conducted after the vote, and the majority of people opposing the field in this forum seem to be parents of sports-playing kids. 2. I’ve heard some pro-turf folks claim that the lack of an artificial turf field would dissuade some potential residents from moving to Redding. In the very complex decision-making process that families go through in deciding in what house/town they will live, has any one ever heard of anybody that cited the presence or absence of artificial turf playing any role in their decision? Is that not ludicrous? Let’s base this debate in reality. 3. A pool in town would be great! We travel to pools in other towns for swim lessons year round. Don't Barlow's swim teams have to practice/compete at WCSU? For me, this would represent a far higher community value than a turf field. 4. A playground in town would also be great! The playground at RES is only available outside of school hours. Also, if I remember correctly, there was considerable debate among the selectman about whether or not the town should pony up the approximately $2,000 needed to move a used, donated playscape to Topstone. Why was that such a difficult decision, when the call for this $500,000 was not?
Not an Empty Nester October 15, 2011 at 04:30 AM
5. A foreign language curriculum in elementary school would also be great, and much more valuable to me and my children than artificial turf. 6. How many people responding here played outdoor sports as a kid? I did, and I got a lot out of it. How many of those same people played on artificial turf? If you said no (as I imagine every one did), did you feel deprived by the lack of artificial turf? When it rained, and your fields got muddy, did you feel like you were being personally aggrieved by the fact that water + dirt = mud? Isn’t there something to be said for acknowledging the fact that we live in a place with 4 beautiful seasons, and the resultant wet ground is normal, and not a hardship? 7. Information from one of the public meetings indicated that the turf would have a 10-year life before it would require replacement. Does it strike anyone else as highly questionable that Redding would pass a 20-year bond for a product with a 10-year shelf life? How would we pay for its replacement/significant maintenance in 10 years when we would be only halfway done with paying for the last one? 8. All of these issues ignore the question of whether a turf field would actually be superior to natural grass. I am no expert on this issue, but informed viewpoints casting doubt on this issue are available from a variety of sources, including here: http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/021109.html .
Not an Empty Nester October 15, 2011 at 04:31 AM
9. If coaches and sports teams are convinced that having practices or games potentially rained out would be truly detrimental in some way, perhaps they could consider renting field time at one of the other artificial turf fields that they are so quick to point out exist all around Redding. In closing, I’m very happy I moved to Redding. It is safe, beautiful, and quiet, and it offers its residents a wonderful quality of life. The voters’ decision on the turf field gives me confidence that the wider community’s priorities are in step with my own. It seems like there are lots of areas where, the town’s $500,000 (plus the state’s $400,000) would be better spent.

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