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Planning and Zoning Shoots Down Baseball Field Improvements

The town planning and zoning commission told the department of leisure and recreation that its planned improvements to the varsity baseball field at Windsor HIgh are too little to be considered.

Anyone who has attended a baseball game at Windsor High School, or even driven down Sage Park Road, knows the varsity baseball field is in dire need of an upgrade.

Despite the department of leisure and recreation's proposal of a handful of improvements to the field, the town planning and zoning commission refused to send the proposal to the town council, saying the improvements just aren't good enough.

Director of Leisure and Recreation Paul Norris presented a plan to the planning and zoning commission Tuesday that included enclosing the home side players' dugout with a chain-link fence and hard-top roof, constructing a batting cage and bullpen for the home team, regrading the infield and replacing the sod.

The improvements address just a number of concerns on a long list that the Diamond Club presented to the commission earlier this year.

The fact that only some of those concerns were addressed caused a problem for the commission Tuesday night.

"I'm definitely for what Windsor High School is doing... [But] I'd love to see you come to us with a plan to do the whole ball of wax," said Commissioner Michael O'Brien, who, as a former president of the Diamond Club, refused to support the plan. O'Brien said some of the issues, including safety concerns, date back 30 years, and nothing has been done to address them.

Many of the concerns on the field are regarding safety for players and spectators. Spectators are unprotected from foul balls along the first- and third-base lines as are pitchers warming up or batters preparing to enter the on-deck circle.

Another concern is sunlight. The position of the field and the times games are played create situations in which players are routinely blinded by the sun and could suffer injury from a hard-hit ball.

O'Brien said the town financed the construction of a field across the street at Sage Park Middle School, and that field is not being used.

"I'm not in favor of referring this to the town council until (the leisure and recreation department) get all their ducks in order," O'Brien added.

Although only five commission members were present at the meeting, all but one voted against the measure to refer the plan to the town council.

"I don't have a problem with the improvements," O'Brien explained. "I have a problem with the fact that we keep dumping money into this and still have issues. Let's get the thing fixed because it's been an ongoing problem year after year."

Norris told the commission that the improvements proposed have come from concerns expressed by the Diamond Club and were created with the help of town and department staff to "take (the varsity field) to the next level as far as safety and a place for a batting cage."

One question the commission posed was why improvements were suggested to be made to the home side of the field, but not the visitor's side. 

Norris said the department and Athletic Director Steve Risser have taken a look at some of the other schools in the region and have based their improvements on what they have chosen to do with their fields in years prior.

Malvi Lennon June 13, 2012 at 12:53 PM
"O'Brien said the town financed the construction of a field across the street at Sage Park Middle School, and that field is not being used". Why do we have two baseball fields across the road from each other? Why can't the Diamond Club use the field at Sage Park? How much did the Town spend building a field that is not being used?
Aimee Dion Crisanti June 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
We have 2 baseball fields at WHS & 1 at Sage Park. During the spring baseball season, we have 1 Sage Park team, plus 3 WHS teams (freshman, JV, & Varsity). So, we've got 4 teams using 3 fields. Not sure why it is thought that the Sage Park field is not being used.
Malvi Lennon June 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
@Aimee thanks for the explanation
Elliot Sirota June 14, 2012 at 12:25 AM
In addition to these fields there are 3 other fields at Windsor High that are used for Girls softball. Varsity has a lighted field but it is maintained by the Towns Men's softball leagues, Girls Junior varsity and Sage Park girls share a field during the season and this is in even worse shape then either of the boys fields. Sage Park uses a smaller field at WHS for its practice time. Not sure why this discussion and proposal is only about the boys fields when the entire high school field complex is in serious need of redevelopment to fit the needs of all these outdoor sports and others while giving thought to configuring them to eliminate blinding sun conditions and make each field with equal dugouts/backstops or equipment areas so they can be maintained by the teams as needed.
Malvi Lennon June 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Are we discussing the baseball field improvements Simon talked about in his email to interested parties encouraging them to vote YES for the budget because there was money in the budget to fix the fields?
Malvi Lennon June 14, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Is the the baseball field improvements Simon talked about in his email to interested parties encouraging them to vote YES for the budget because there is money in the budget to fix the field?
Catherine & Dennis June 15, 2012 at 01:45 AM
My question too Malvi! I sure want the answer to that question too! Catherine

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