At its Dec. 12 meeting, New Canaan's Parks and Recreation Commission approved a $1.4 million plan for renovating Waveny Park's softball and baseball fields, which will include a new 90-ft baseball field equipped with artifical turf for the New Canaan High School boys' varsity team and renovated fields for the girls' varsity and junior varsity softball teams. The fields will also serve the town's youth and adult recreational teams.
Waveny currently has two girls' softball fields, two mens' softball fields and a 90 ft baseball field, so the plan (see attached PDF) won't add or take away the number of fields at the park, which is important to all parties involved, according to Patrick Edmonds, a member of New Canaan Baseball Softball Inc., which designed the plan with the Waveny Fields Renovation Committee.
"We've done our due diligence, so that girls' softball, mens' softball and high school ball wouldn't lose out on anything," he told Patch on Friday. "If anything, they all have something to gain."
An earlier version of the plan involved reducing the number of softball fields from four to three and adding a Cal Ripkin-sized baseball field for 11- and 12-year-old players, thus forcing men's and girls' softball teams to share a field, but scheduling conflicts made it unpopular with coaches.
"We don't want to put any constraints on any program's access to the field, so we decided we were going to go with a different plan," Edmonds said.
The new plan, he said, also has the potential to provide space for soccer and field hockey use. "We're excited about the versatility of the artificial turf field, as well as the possibility to utilize the outfield," he added.
After the plan is approved by all required town bodies, the groups are tasked with raising the private funds to back the project. The groups are hoping to begin construction in August, so that it will be ready for use in spring 2014. Fairfield-based consulting firm of Blades & Goven is assisting the overall site planning and design, while McChord Engineering Associates is performing the detailed site design.
"It's a work in progress," Edmonds said. "We have a fair amount of initial soft commitments from some New Canaan residents. We're just gonig to beat the bushes on all sides in regards to raising funds."
Steve Benko, the head of the Parks and Recreation Commission, told Patch that raising the money for the renovations is going to be a "big job."
"No town money will be involved and they only have five months to raise the funds if they want to be ready for next spring," he said. "That's quite a project."
Edmonds said that $100,000 has already been raised to fund the design of the plan and that one of the initial next steps is to get a special permit from the New Canaan Town Council to equip the girls' varsity softball field with new lighting.
He added that it's important for residents to know that the renovations will have little effect on the park's use overall.
"We're reconfiguring space already used by the current baseball fields," he said. "We're not taking any other space from Waveny Park and and changing its purpose. We're making improvements."