Referendum on Artifical Turf Field at Amity Set

By Thanksgiving the Amity High School football field more closely resembles a swimming pool than a top flight athletic facility.

For this and many other reasons the Amity Regional Board of Education is asking Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge residents to vote Sept. 24 on whether $1.5 million should be funded to install a synthetic turf field. {{more}}

If residents approve borrowing the funds, the best case scenario is to have the new field in place for the 2014 football season, but that is far from a guarantee, said William Blake, who is the school board chairman.

If the new synthetic turf field is installed it will be home to both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, soccer and field hockey teams. Presently, the current field is not suitable to host additional sports beyond football.

Amity head football coach Bert Mozealous said the field is great to start the season, but as the number of games increases the grass gets torn up.

The field has drainage issues, which leads to less than ideal conditions for the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity squads that all utilize the facility.

“If it rains, it gets torn up by Thanksgiving and then its mud,” Mozealous said. “It’s not a great situation for our kids to play on, it is sloppy conditions and they shouldn’t be playing on it.”

He said Amity is in the minority by having a grass field. Several school systems including Milford, Branford, West Haven and Hamden have turf fields. Madison is building a synthetic turf field.

“With this synthetic turf field we can accommodate more kids, more sports, and in safer conditions,” Mozealous said. “We really need (the new field).”

Besides doing all of the above, he said Amity is at a competitive disadvantage because of its grass field. Most schools’ Amity plays have a turf field, and the speed of the game is much faster, the coach said.

Blake said for a number of years the condition of the football field led to its limited use.

“We think a turf field if approved by the voters would lead to a lot more uses for mens and womens sports,” Blake said.

He said talk of adding a synthetic turf field is nothing new. Several years ago a group of parents led fundraising efforts to try and pay for the project. The group did not raise significant money.

Blake said he and board members are aware of the concerns about turf fields: injuries are more prevalent and the substance that makes up the turf is an environmental concern.

But Blake and Mozealous both said there is no evidence that injuries are more common on turf fields, and past environmental concerns have been alleviated. No longer are turf fields seemingly made of concrete with paint over it, Mozealous said.

Blake said Amity officials believe because of the significant costs it was prudent to have the community weigh in with a referendum on whether it’s something they want.

He said if voters approve the funds it may not be ready for the 2014 football season. He said there is significant back log on construction of these fields, which could delay installation. Blake said he envisions youth sports teams also being able to use the facility.

Milford Deputy Superintendent of Operations James L. Richetelli Jr. said the district “loves” its two synthetic turf fields. He said it’s increased its use, increased the number of sports that can use it, and most importantly reduced maintenance costs.

He said grass fields are problematic because it can’t be used for many months due to reseeding.

Richetelli said students at both high schools really take pride in their fields.

“We’ve been very happy with them,” Richetelli said. “The fields are really nice, clean and professional looking.”