Athletic Fields Task Force
The Athletic Fields Task Force (AFTF) was formed in 2020 to develop a comprehensive plan to address the shortage of athletic fields at Fitch High School and community use fields in parks. The Task Force has representatives from Groton Parks and Recreation, Groton Public Schools, elected officials, and representatives from stakeholder organizations that depend on fields.
If you would like to get involved, please consider participating in the Public Visioning Session on June 6, 2022 or leaving feedback on the Greater Groton website. Please contact Jerry Lokken at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-536-5682 for more information.
Summary of the Findings
Groton is behind in terms of providing athletic fields to meet he needs of the community for both schools and community use and we need to construct additional fields and renovate many existing fields in order to meet the demand and provide equitable opportunities.
Fitch High School Deficiencies
The AFTF has identified a number of issues and deficits with the current athletic facilities. FHS is behind all neighboring towns in terms of on-campus facilities available.
- 13 High School teams need to leaving campus to play or practice creates inequities
- students who may need to remain after school for additional help cannot do practice and vice versa
- students with transportation issues
- gender inequality
- sport inequity (no suitable space for band, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, etc.)
- Stadium field significant issues
- Lack of support amenities for girls' sports
- Lack of restrooms
- Bleachers are not accessible
- Field can only be used for football
FHS use of facilities prevents community groups from using fields. Even if FHS teams did not use the community fields, there isn't enough current capacity to meet demand. The primary goal is to serve local youth sport leagues, but there are significant economic impact generated by hosting tournaments, premier/select youth sport teams, and adult sports.
The AFTF recommends the following improvements at Fitch High School, Sutton Park, and the Claude Chester School Property.
- Several fields would be added or improved at FHS.
- Sutton Park would serve as an overflow for baseball and softball at the high school and be used for youth sports after school.
- Claude Chester School would be torn down and community use fields installed. The concentration of fields close to Poquonnock Plains Park would allow for efficient maintenance and be ideal for hosting tournaments.
The Task Force is preparing to implement a planning project to develop conceptual plans for the fields to be built in each of the three locations, but that depends on the results of the visioning workshop. Before proceeding the community needs to know that building fields at Claude Chester has public support.
Artificial versus Natural Surfacing
Artificial surfaces allow for greater use and are not impacted by weather. In order to meet the demand with natural surface fields, we would need to add approximately 1/3 more fields, and those fields would still be subject to weather impacts. The AFTF has heard concerns related to safety and environmental impacts related to artificial surfaces and is currently researching the concerns in detail.
Chairman: Frank Norosky (Community Member)
Members: Portia Bordelon (Town Council), Bruce Flax (Community Member), Rachael Franco (Town Council), Chad Frost (Groton Lacrosse, Kent+Frost Landscape Architecture), Tara Hannaford (Shoreline Social and Sports), Rich Kosta (FHS Coach), Danny Lee (FHS Boosters), Jerry Lokken (Groton Parks and Recreation), Jim Southers (Groton Soccer Club, Groton Little League), Marc Romano (FHS Athletic Director), Bruce Wagner (Little League), Jay Weitlauf (Board of Education)
January 2021 Presentation of Findings
Video of Presentation to Town Council (presentation begins at 14:00)