WALLINGFORD — The Lyman Hall High School athletic complex is further delayed after the architect had to withdraw an application to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but administrators aren’t concerned and hope to have construction start in the summer of 2015.
The project was tabled by the Planning and Zoning Commission in May. The athletic complex was on the agenda of the commission’s July meeting, but the application was withdrawn, said Town Planner Kacie Costello.
“They weren’t quite ready to move forward with it so they withdrew that application,” Costello said. “I believe they have modified the proposal, but they haven’t seen any new applications yet.”
The proposed athletic complex at Lyman Hall will mirror the one at Sheehan High School. Plans include installing an artificial turf field and a larger eight-lane asphalt track with rubber coating. Track and field equipment would also be installed behind both end zones of the football field and a building would be constructed to house athletic and maintenance equipment. The plan also calls for the installation of a new lighting system.
Building and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula said the plan for the athletic complex had to be modified to address issues with sewage and existing water mains.
“The water line that feeds that facility right now has to definitely be relocated. Right now, it’s under the field,” Deptula said. “... If we put a new field over it and it leaks, we have to dig up the whole new field. We’d have egg on our faces if we had to dig up a new field to repair a water main.”
To avoid any damage to a new field, Deptula said the water main will be rerouted.
Deptula said the Planning and Zoning Commission could discuss the project at a September meeting.
“There’s a reasonable expectation for a presentation to occur during the next (Planning and Zoning Commission) meeting,” Deptula said. “It’s time. It needs to move forward just so they’re ready to move in the spring.”
Receiving the commission’s approval is the last procedural hurdle the school system has to overcome, Deptula said. If the commission votes in favor of the athletic complex plans, it would move forward to the bid process.
Despite the application being withdrawn, Deptula said he wasn’t frustrated or disappointed with how long it has taken to receive approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“It’s a major project ... it’s much more involved,” he said. “The design team does need a little bit of time to make sure things are right. Quite often, when you rush these projects, you find out that in the long run you would have been better off giving the design team time to make sure they had all the details down.”
If the project isn’t further delayed, Deptula said he hopes pre-construction for the project will begin at the end of May 2015, with the first phase of the plan completed over the summer. The first phase includes installing the larger track, artificial turf field, handicapped accessible bathrooms and a new lighting system.
“The aim is to get the majority of it done with the least amount of impact on the student athletes,” Deptula said.
Deptula emphasized that funding for the project remains an important factor. State Reps. Mary Mushinsky and Mary Fritz, both Democrats representing Wallingford, worked together to change the language of a previous authorization for up to $525,000. The money was originally authorized by the legislature in 2005 for baseball fields at Sheehan, but the state Bond Commission never signed off on it and the school system didn’t receive the funding.
Mushinsky and Fritz were able to change the language so the money could be used for any field maintenance, and in this case would go towards the Lyman Hall complex.
Mushinsky said Tuesday that all the necessary documents were submitted and she is waiting for the project to be placed on a Bond Commission meeting. The commission isn’t meeting in August, but should meet in September. Mushinsky added, however, that it’s difficult to determine which projects will be placed on the agenda.
“We’re in the pipeline and you have to wait your turn,” she said.
Mushinsky said the approval process is “competitive,” but added that it helps the town and private businesses are willing to contribute to the project. The town has $300,000 in an account for the school system to use towards a new track at Lyman Hall. In July, the Town Council approved advertising on high school fields during games.
“They like to see the community put up money as well, so those two things help,” Mushinsky said.
In addition to the possibility of state aid, Deptula added that the Town Council and Board of Education have worked together to determine capital improvement projects to be bonded. The athletic complex was one of the items identified.
Deptula said when construction begins, the lighting has to be upgraded and handicapped-accessible bathrooms have to be added to ensure the town is compliant with federal and state regulations.
“If you just spend money on the track and field and don’t include those other components, you’re not going to be in compliance with some very important regulations,” Deptula said. “Anything regulated at a federal level usually has state and federal enforcement attached to it and you have to satisfy those needs.”