At this month’s Parks & Recreation board meeting, Tim Coughlin, Turf Operations Manager for the town, shared plans for improvements at Moretti Athletic Fields, commonly known as Bible Street Park.
The opportunities at Bible Street were identified in a 2020 field study commissioned by Parks & Rec for $75,000. The report, funded by the BET, provided information and recommendations for all the town’s playing fields.
The Bible Street fields were identified for a 50/70 baseball field (in addition to the existing softball field) and a small-sided soccer field in between, to be used exclusively for games – not for practice.
Mr. Coughlin said ideally the project would go out for bid this fall, but first it will be pre-reviewed by the Purchasing Dept.
As for timing, Coughlin would prefer the sodding to be done in October, rather than in the spring when it would be played on immediately.
He shared concerns about the bidding environment for municipal projects and said that bids had been coming in high for towns.
“Hopefully we get somebody; maybe not,” he said. “We might have to do it next year.”
Still, depending on the costs, Parks & Rec it might also be possible do drainage renovation and irrigation at upper Havemeyer Field.
Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano said the project at Bible Street was a long time in the making.
“The BET gives us an allowance every year for field improvement. So we put a couple of those years together and now we hopefully have enough to do Bible Street and some of Havemeyer,” Siciliano said.
50/70 baseball field
One of the findings of the 2020 fields report was that the town had a deficit of 50/70 baseball fields, which is the next step up from a 40/60 field.
A 50/70 Intermediate Baseball diamond maintains a 50 ft pitching distance from the pitching rubber to home plate and 70 ft base paths.
There is one 50/70 baseball field at Pemberwick Park, on the west side of town, that is heavily used.
“What we’re finding is that 50/70 is becoming more favorable because it is a transition from a smaller field, instead of 12-year-olds playing on a 90-foot diamond,” Coughlin said.
Small-Sided Grass Soccer Field for U9 and Less
The 2020 field study indicated that the town had a deficit of small-sided soccer fields.
“We have a lot of large soccer fields. We have a lot of synthetic fields, including five at GHS alone – and Cos Cob Park and Eastern Middle School,” Coughlin said.
Bible Street fields offer a large rectangular grass area, and, unlike the fields at Binney Park which take several days to drain after heavy rain, the fields at Bible Street have good drainage.
There are no plans to alter the grade because it is in a flood plane.
The fields did flood in 2011, but that was due to the rain weir becoming clogged with debris from the Pinetum. Today there is a grate over the pipe, and it is maintained.
As for the existing Little League field, Coughlin said today it is only used for small children because in the past foul balls ended up in neighbors’ yards.
For the same reason, there are plans to protect the neighbors. Coughlin explained there will be 3-1/2 to 4- inch steel poles, with chain link fence below and netting on top.
He said children tend to try to climb on netting, so 20 ft of netting similar to that at Cos Cob Park will be atop an 8-foot high chain link fence.
The plans include dugouts with tops on them and cages around them, as well as ADA compliant paths to the dugouts and to get around the field.
“The new 50/70 baseball field – we’re going to rebuild the field, not change the topography of the field. It’s going to be re-sodded. It’s going to be brand spanking new – all new clay and safety fencing.”
As for the softball field, it will stay as is but have some upgrades including safety fencing and improvements to the backstop.
“The whole field is going to be irrigated, and then we’re going to do some semi-aggressive agronomic treatment: top dressing, core injection,” he continued. “We’ve been organic for 12 years.”
“To make this more of a premiere area we need to have the irrigation, so that’s part of the plan.
No additional parking is planned or needed. Coughlin said only one activity will run at a time – baseball, softball, small sided soccer, or football practice – and there is adequate parking along Bible Street. Also, Parks & Rec controls scheduling and can ensure a transition between games.
The small parking lot at the north end of the park is used by softball players and the day school that runs out of the small building there. That remains.
The plan is being reviewed by staff at P&Z and neighbors have been notified that the project is being reviewed.
When pickle ball was proposed for one of the two basketball courts at Bible Street Park, there was an outcry among neighbors.
Today, the field improvements project excludes the basketball and playground areas entirely. It is limited to the fields.
Mr. Siciliano said he wanted to get word out about the field improvements and sought feedback. He said while the letters were sent to neighbors, there had been minimal response to date.
Miriam Kreuzer, from the BET attended the meeting and suggested the Parks & Rec reach out to district 8.