WALLINGFORD — Choate Rosemary Hall received initial approval last week for a new artificial turf field.
The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission deemed the proposal to install artificial turf on Maguire Field North not a significant impact activity, allowing the project to continue through the town permitting process.
Lorraine Connelly, Choate associate director of communications, said Friday the private boarding school anticipates going before the Zoning Board of Appeals April 15 and the Planning and Zoning Commission May 13.
Walter Schaeffler, Choate chief financial officer, and Robb Champlin, project manager from Clark Cos., a Delhi, New York-based company that designs and builds outdoor athletic fields, presented the wetlands application the middle of last week.
Schaeffler said the school wants to replace the 87,400-square-foot multi-use field because the “very difficult drainage situation” makes it hard to play games on the existing natural grass after it rains.
Champlin said there would be a new gravel access road to the southeast of the field, including a pad for a potential future outbuilding.
He identified two drainage areas, one along the new gravel road and along the eastside slope of the field, which abuts Wharton Brook.
Champlin said the field has “not terrible soils, but they’re finely grained, so they don’t promote any infiltration,” geotechnical tests revealed.
“It’s just kind of a muddy mess still to this day,” he added.
The synthetic turf would be a sand and rubber infill that keeps the plastic grass vertical. They would remove about three inches of grass, topsoil and sod, Champlin said.
The top of the field would stay dry, Champlin said, because the water flows though the turf to a crushed stone base, and then into flat drains and a permeable fabric.
It follows the subgrade and is collected in an outside pipe network going around the perimeter of the field, engineered to withhold approximately 200,000 gallons of water, to be released slowly back out into the wetlands, he said.
Environmental Planner Erin O’Hare said that since the existing field goes right to the edge of a slope down to Wharton Brook, two discharge points with eroded conditions were a concern to her. Proposed drainage from the planned gravel road and outbuilding was also a concern.
O’Hare said she wasn’t prepared to approve the application and anticipated that action would be postponed to the commission’s next meeting.
Commission members decided that O’Hare’s concerns could be addressed through the Planning and Zoning Commission.
O’Hare then said she felt comfortable that the town Engineering Department “will get on top of this, these two existing discharges and one proposed discharge.”
Commission members granted Choate its wetlands permit unanimously.