On Wednesday the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve the Municipal Improvement for Phase 1B of the Cardinal Stadium improvement project.
Phase 1A was approved months ago and included approval for replacement of condemned bleachers, which have now been demolished, construction of lavatory facilities, team room, and handicapped accessible press box. The bid has been awarded for construction and new bleachers are currently being fabricated.
Voting on 1B were commissioners Margarita Alban, Nick Macri, Dennis Yeskey, Dave Hardman, and Peter Levy.
Phase 1B includes the access driveway to the facility from East Putnam Ave, a revised entrance and curb cut, addition of 17 handicapped parking spaces, addition of a pedestrian plaza next to the bleachers and a ticket kiosk.
“The goal is to have graduation in the new stands, assuming graduation will be in person,” said the BOE’s attorney Tom Heagney, who added that the timetable is tight but they anticipate completing of 1B by June.
There was some discussion on whether to include the future roadway connecting campus to East Putnam Ave for a second egress in Phase 1B or push it forward to Phase 2.
The decision was not to include the roadway in 1B, but the commission expects it to be presented in the next month or so.
“It’s very relevant because there is a lot of traffic congestion on Hillside Rd, which is very damaging to that neighborhood according to the people who live there,” P&Z director Katie DeLuca said on Thursday morning.
Ashley Cole, a resident of Hillside Road thanked the commission during Wednesday’s public hearing portion of the meeting.
“We are desperate for traffic safety on Hillside Road and it looks like it’s going to happen. There is nothing more important than the safety of our neighborhoods and the safety of our school children. We can have both a beautiful and safe campus and neighborhood – kind of a town and gown.”
“We’ve been working toward this for years,” she said. “This is very important for our town as a whole, to have this second egress for GHS.”
There was some interesting conversation on the possibility of a large Cardinal mural on the back of the bleachers, visible from Putnam Ave.
The idea was suggested by attorney Heagney, who said the idea came up at an ARC meeting when they discussed putting screening behind the stands.
“That was something requested by ARC, and we thought well why just have a blank wall when you can have a nice logo, and everybody driving by will know that this is Cardinal stadium.”
“Understanding that the logo would be more than 18″ high – probably more than 18 ft high,” he added.
Alban said the idea of signage could be added to the list of items for ARC to consider.
Ms Cole disagreed with the suggestion. “I think all of the neighborhood would like to see something natural and lovely there,” she said, adding a suggestion that the greenscape committee be involved in landscaping behind the stadium.
Ms DeLuca said that when GCDS presented their bleacher project there was a large tiger proposed for their bleachers, but that was declined.
“It is quite large. It’s not really a sign per se,” she continued, adding that the Cardinal might be considered to be a mural.
Mr. Heagney said ARC suggested that rather than put a Cardinal logo on the press box that they use “flags or banners” during an event.
Joseph Lenihan from Fuss & O’Neill said there were plans were to replace the sidewalk from from intersection with Overlook down to the bus stop. Also to provide an additional pedestrian access and a right-in, right-out access onto East Putnam.
Ms DeLuca said, “For phase 2, the road will continue on, assuming all the stars align, and connect to the back of the high school where there is an existing parking lot.”
In the meantime she asked how the driveway would function in future.
Lenihan said some of the right turn movements heading from the high school via Hillside Rd to Putnam Ave would be rerouted to the new access point.
“This is one of the rare times as a traffic engineer I get to say the development is going to improve traffic conditions,” he said. “It’s a very congested intersection. Getting some of those trips to a different access point is definitely an improvement.”
In the short term, the limited access driveway will only be open for events, and will be restricted to the use of food trucks, emergency vehicles and handicapped parking.
But it is being designed to coordinate with Phase 2 and tie into the creation of the access road.