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.