New turf won out over a number of other items at a Westport, Conn., Board of Finance meeting.
In a unanimous vote, the BOF approved a reduced figure of $4,785,269 for the local Parks and Recreation Department to install new turf fields.
The monies will allow projects to move forward this year that will see replacement of the track at Staples High School and Wakeman Park, with others to be completed next year.
Westport News reported that the primary reason for approving the funds was ensuring athlete safety.
“The bounce of the ball is becoming increasingly more dangerous,” Staples girls field hockey coach Ian Tapsall said in response to a suggestion that replacement of the Jenny Parker Field on the southeast side of the campus could be postponed for a few more years. “We probably have to patch at least five different areas on Jenny Parker,” he said, noting pronounced damage was especially noticeable in front of the goals.
The Staples rugby coach, David Lyme, said his team has seen four concussions as a result of heads hitting the old turf. “We might as well be playing in the parking lot,” he said.
The BOF nixed $200,000 from the initial request for funding in hopes that private individuals and groups can raise some of the money needed to replace the turf.
Other items on the board included transit district funding, and an $80,000 dip into the Board of Education’s carry-over account, both of which were respectively approved, denied, and deferred.