By: Maria Moore
The Recreation Commission met this past Wednesday, August 1, in Berkshire Hall at Brodie Park on the same evening that 50+ campers from the town’s Berkshire summer camp were holding a camp-out. The sound and sight of kids and counsellors were a backdrop to the entire meeting which lasted 38 minutes. Dan Eddy presided as chairman in John Maschi’s place; other Rec Commission members absent were Sally O’Neill and Ed Smith.
The meeting began with Pulic Comment and Jean Cronauer, Chairwoman of the Open Space Commission, address the Rec Commission members. Jean started out by saying that she thought it was important that all the town’s commissions work together, that they all had similar roles with different specialties, so she was there to learn more about the Rec Commission and how it worked. Jean, who is also a member of the Brodie Park South Study Group/Committee, said that it was important that, before the Brodie Park South Study Group’s report was presented at a future meeting (in September, according to Dan Eddy who chairs that group), the Rec Commission members be familiar with the contents of the Northwest Conservation District’ Brodie Park South Baseline Study. Jean handed out three print copies to the Rec Commission members present and urged them to read it, or at least portions of it; download a copy of the Brodie Park South Baseline Study which we made available on NewHartfordPlus in our July 10, 2010 article ‘Brodie Park South Baseline Study V.2 Now Available.’ The second version of the study corrected minor errors in the original report. The baseline study was commissioned and paid for by the Conservation, Open Space and Rec Commissions, all members of the Brodie Park South Study Group Committee. The purpose of the study which was carried out by the Northwest Conservation District, of which Jean Cronauer is the Executive Director, was for the study group’s members to gain a better understanding of Brodie Park South before decisions about the long-term use of that town-owned property were made by the study group.
Dan Eddy confirmed that the Brodie Park South Study group had arrived at a recommendation in May and that, because of the disrupted schedules during the summer, they would present their report in September. He said that the allocation of land recommended was the same as they had discussed at their (Rec?) meeting previously – See our Editor’s Note below.
Rec Commission member Don Govotski remarked that he was glad that the matter was moving along at Antolini (School). “Enough is enough,” he said, “We just don’t have the money for a football field in one month, in one year.”
The Public Comments portion of the meeting concluded, Dan Eddy reported on a Football meeting he had attended, referring to the New Hartford Football & Cheer regional sports group that have been approved the use of Brodie Park South for their practices for the 2012 Football season, beginning today, August 6 through mid-November. Dan Eddy went through the parking arrangements, which he said would accommodate “60 cars,the vast majority of the cars:”
Following is the video of the August 1, 2012, Rec Meeting:
- 15 cars facing the field (along Niles road on the side of the park?)
- 12 cars facing the road as secondary parking (location unclear)
- 30 cars facing the road inside the field pulled up to the stone wall
- if there’s overflow, 15 more cars can park on the side of the road in front of the parking area
Dan Eddy said he had insisted that they have someone there to make sure they parked in those slots so there wouldn’t be extra space between them. He said they would paint those lines on so people would know how to park. He said he was insistent that all drop off and pick up would be done within the parking area so that there would be nobody on the side of the road. He added that he strongly recommended that they do the vast majority of their practicing on the right of the pine breaks. “It’s bigger than in front of the parking lot and there’s all this foilage to break the light, the sound and the sight from the neighbors. Over here (pointing to the open field area) there’s nothing between the field area and the road so the sound would travel right across the road to neighbors.” Regarding the time practices are to be held he said: “I told them “Parks are open sunrise to sunset, if the sun sets at midnight, the parks are open until midnight. But Football came in and asked for a special exception and said they needed to practice after sunset. The Rec Commission authorized practice to 8 o’clock. The park needs to be clean and empty at 8 o’clock, not 8:05, not 8:06, not a minute after. I think we got our points across to them, they need to control parking and the sound and be out of there by 8.”
Later in the meeting, (15 mins. 6 secs. in the video), Maria Moore’s letter outlining concerns regarding the additional insurance risk to the town by allowing the Football program to practice on the unimproved fields at Brodie South after sunset; see a copy of Maria’s June 26 letter to the town’s First Selectman, Rec Commission Chairman and the Board of Finance Chairman that was posted on NewHartfordPlus on that same day. Dan Eddy said that the insurance company had responded and said that as long as there is an independent insurance certificate there is no additional risk at all to the town. He explained that the Rec programs – baseball, basketball and soccer are sponsored by the Rec Commission and so the coaches and players are covered under the town’s insurance policy. “Football and Travel Soccer are affiliated with state organizations, we don’t specifically govern those organizations so those state organizations provide insurance certificates to the towns they operate in showing that they have the proper insurance.” Dan Eddy explained. “The insurance agent got back to the First Selectman that there is no additional risk.” No mention was made of the thrust of the concern in the letter, i.e. that of allowing Football to practice after sunset when in 2011 the town’s insurance agent had written to specifically say that the boaters (residents with pay to moor their boats the town dock on West Hill Lake) should not be allowed to walk through the park after dark to access their boats because since the parks closed at sunset allowing the boaters access after dark would affect the town’s insurance rates.
Selectmen Ask For Rec’s Input On Future Of Foam Dome On Jones Mountain
Dan Eddy reported that at the past Board of Selectmen’s meeting, the selectmen had asked him to report to the Rec Commission on the foam dome, at the top of Jones Mountain. (24 mins. in the video). He said that the First Selectman had been to the top of the mountain with his son and had noted substantial demolition (unclear in video), graffiti, etc. on it. “The Selectman is making inquiries as to whether to improve it, secure it or demolish it and he asked us, in part, for our opinion. I think we can wait till the next meeting…” Dan Eddy said. He also noted that there was a Stewardship Committee formed in 2006, 2007 with respect to Gula and Jones Mountain. “The Stewardship Committee came up with the recommendation that Open Space (Commission) and Conservation (Commission) be the stewards of the property until something more permanent might be established.” Dan Eddy said that they’d be happy to give their opinion, but that Open Space and Conservation should also be asked, and if they wanted, they could copy Rec on their comments. “I think he should have asked Open Space and Conservation copied on their opinions,.” Jean Cronauer gave a little background on the Stewardship Committee, saying that Open Space did a baseline study and that once the uses were arrived at, then the job of maintaining it would be Conservation. “So Conservation (Commission) is really the one that’s been taking care of those two properties,” Jean said. “Certainly Rec wants to be involved and aware of what’s going on all types of Rec activities in town,” Dan Eddy said, but he added that as far as giving educated input on that specific issue it should come from Conservation and Open Space. Rec Commission member Maureen Morris echoed what Jean Cronauer had said at the beginning of the meeting, that the commissions should be working together. “I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hold joint meetings sometimes,” Jean added.
Antolini Field Expansion Update
Dan Eddy told the Rec Commission members that he had voiced a couple of concerns about it when he’d looked at the map, the Planning & Zoning Commission had approved the project for the field expansion at Antolini School presented by the First Selectman. Dan Eddy said they they will probably go ahead and strip it over the summer, but probably not do more than that since they don’t want to run into the school year. He said he imagined that they would do a substantial amount of the work next year, although the selectmen hadn’t outlined it. He said his concerns were related to the placement of the handicapped parking area on a steep slope, the fact that there is a 6-foot slope from the center of the field down to three sides, and that there is a 4-foot rise from home base to center field in the girl’s softball field, something which he thought the girls would notice, although a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission seemed to think that they wouldn’t notice! “They approved it as the (First) Selectman had presented it,” Dan Eddy said, adding that P&Z Commission member Dan LaPlante had voiced a concern about there only being 6 inches of topsoil over a substantial bedrock location and that during the summer it wouldn’t hold enough moisture to hold the grass so by the fall it would be just dirt. “Basically, the Planning & Zoning seemed to think “If the Selectman want it this way they should just give it to him this way,” Dan Eddy said. They had approved it without recommendations and changes. He said that maybe they’ll address their concerns to the Board of Finance, since it would be a shame to allocate $50-60,000 to the project if it wasn’t going to be adequate. “What exactly are they doing?” Maureen Morris asked and she was told that they were basically going to double the size of the field. “It’s going to need substantial cut and fill,” Dan Eddy said in response to a question from Don Govotski, “Otherwise we’ll get another practice field.”
The Rec Commission meeting ended shortly thereafter, leaving Berkshire Hall to the young campers whose sleep bags lined the floor inside the hall.
Editor’s Note on the Brodie Park South Study Group Committee: Maria Moore, NHPlus Editor, has attended the Brodie Park South Study Group Committee’s meetings including the May meeting – the last time that group met, although it is difficult to say for sure since the group’s meeting times have not been easily available. Both the Conservation Commission and the Open Space Commission had at previous meeetings of the Brodie South study group reported that their commissions had unanimously recommended the total preservation of Brodie Park South. At the May meeting, the representatives of Conservation and Open Space had backed away from their Commissions’ recommendations and had, instead, agreed to allocate the open field area for active sports use. Our editor asked the Open Space Commission representative for a copy of the draft easement that would be part of the Brodie South study group’s report, but a copy of the draft easement was not forwarded; nor are minutes of the meetings of the Brodie Park South Study Group Committee available in the Town Clerk’s office. As soon as NewHartfordPlus obtains a copy of the draft easement and a copy of at least the last meeting of the Brodie South Study group we will report on that group’s recommendation on the long-term use of Brodie South.