On Tuesday night, the choral room at Greenwich High School was packed for back to back presentations from Russell Davidson, the district’s consultant architect from KGD. The first hour focused on upgrading Cardinal Field. The second part focused on a 15 year facilities plan for all Greenwich schools.
The full house included parents and teachers, and was peppered with town officials, including BET members, RTM members, and 5 out of the 8 member Board of Education.
Davidson reviewed option B for upgrading Cardinal field, which the Board of Education approved on Feb 22 for continuation to site design. The plan includes replacing bleachers, which have structural issues, making the facility ADA compliant, upgrading the scoreboard and creating an access road to connect the school to East Putnam Ave via Cardinal field.
It also includes construction of a two story building that would bring long overdue toilet facilities, team rooms, weight rooms, concession, and ticket office, and increase access for teams and spectators. The second story would house the weight rooms and include a deck ideal for viewing.
Davidson said upgrades would be done in phases so that the facility remains open throughout the process.
First the bleachers would be replaced. Next the tennis courts would be moved. Lastly,the two story building housing toilets, team rooms, ticket room, training rooms would be constructed.
Davidson said that in all the feedback to date, the idea of a connecting road has been received favorably. It would feature a new bridge for vehicles and pedestrians over the brook, and allow another way in and out in case of emergency.
“It won’t require removal of the cooling tower and will align with one of the existing traffic lanes,” he said. “We hope it can be open all the time, to allow another way out of the school parking lots, and ease traffic on Hillside Road.”
This new access road and additional parking would make possible handicapped parking and drop-off for teams and disabled. The bleachers would be replaced and pushed forward, creating space for some of the additional parking. Overall there would be net gain of 70 parking spots.
Davidson said the new road would not require a traffic light at East Putnam Ave, and that a curb cut already exists.
“A right turn out and right turn in should be fairly easy,” he said, noting there will be a traffic study.
Representatives from the Milbrook Association across East Putnam Ave from GHS had questions about traffic flow with an access road. They were concerned about traffic backups at the traffic light opposite Overlook Drive.
Davidson said there will be public forums on traffic and the RFP was issued last week for the traffic feasibility study. He said once selected, consultant would deal with the sate Dept of Transportation and research traffic counts.
Randy Caravella of the Greenwich Athletic Foundation asked if it would still be possible to create a seasonal ice rink on the tennis courts during the off season, Davidson replied, “Yes, if tennis courts are one continuous pavement, it’s possible to upgrade to that type of facility.”
A show of hands indicated a strong interest in including an ice rink on the tennis courts when they are not in use.
“This should be a signature facility for the town of Greenwich,” Davidson said of Cardinal field. “It is used hundreds of times a year, but only a few high volume uses – around a dozen, but they’re very important.”
Asked about lighting the stadium, Davidson cautioned, “We’ve got other deed restrictions that govern this project that need to be worked out.”
The BOE chair Peter Bernstein said there are separate considerations for lights. “It’s part of superior court process as well as Planning & Zoning. We have to live within that,” he said. “We can replace some of the equipment and modernize it, but we still have limitations on usage.”
GHS Athletic Director Gus Lindine noted that within the agreement, the school can can only light the field for six for practices a year, plus 10 games per year.
A question came up about the possibility of litigating the 2003 agreement, considering the BOE voted in favor of litigation last fall.
BOE member Jennifer Dayton said the next step toward litigation would be for the Board of Selectmen to opine, but they simply have not.
“We forwarded it to the Board of Selectmen. They have taken no action. That is all we know,” Dayton said.
BOE chair Peter Bernstein, said, “We do have money to re-carpet fields 6 and 7, which are at the end of their useful life.”
Ms. Dayton said, “We are not planning lights on other fields at this moment.”
RTM member Karen Giannuzzi asked about maintenance of the upgraded facility with its new two story building.
“Have there been thoughts about the cost of maintaining the additional building? Will the town be able to keep up with it?” she asked.
Ms. Dayton noted that maintenance comes under the aegis of the Parks & Rec department. “There is nobody here from that department tonight,” she noted.
Dayton said the BOE will discuss prioritization and next steps in preparation for the project to go through the Municipal Improvement process.