A few people came to cast their vote on the $3.27 million stadium field project proposed for Joel Barlow High School Tuesday night — minutes before the polls closed. The glow of lantern lights flickered in the darkness at a table along the sidewalk where three Easton residents, armed with literature and a box of doughnuts, encouraged anyone who approached them to vote yes.
"The bleachers, the lights, the fence and the parking lot are a disgrace," Steve Miller, a Barlow parent, said of the current field's conditions. "It's a great grass field, but Barlow has had to cancel games because playing in wet conditions would ruin the field."
Miller said the football team usually plays regardless, but at a different location. He recalled a game two years ago, when the Falcons had to travel to Brookfield to play their home game against New Milford.
Amy McKeon, whose son and daughter play cross country and Lacrosse at the high school, added that grass fields are expensive to maintain. She believes an artificial turf field the Barlow project calls for would ultimately save Easton and Redding money for maintenance over the 12 years before it needs to be replaced.
McKeon, Miller and Joan Winter are part of Barlow Excellence, a group of parents, coaches and citizens. Miller said Keith Gallagher, took a leadership role in the effort to get the stadium field plan approved.
The project, which received overwhelming approval later that night, includes new home and away bleachers that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a newly paved parking lot, a new fence and new lighting.
Aside from the costs associated with maintaining the grass field, Winter noted how Barlow has to pay for bus travel when the girls Lacrosse team has to go to another field to practice.
But while Miller, McKeon and Winter touted the benefits of an artificial turf field, they also agreed that a main concern among some parents was whether the playing surface could cause more injuries. However, they believe turf has been made safer over the years.
Though McKeon has children who play sports at Barlow, she said, "Whether my kids are impacted or not, if it's good for the school, I support it. We have to support our community."