As the Route 80 redesign is steadily progressing, some North Branford residents have raised concerns and questions over what will become of Wall Field. Part of the package from the state for the Route 80 project was the relocation of Wall Field to the Swajchuk Property.
At the Nov. 20 North Branford Town Council meeting, several Town Council members questioned the future of the original Wall Field.
“At some point we’ll try to sell that area, but there has been a request to continue using it,” said Bonnie Therrien, interim town manager. “[North Branford Little League] would like ability to have little ones use the field. There is the concern as it’s pretty close to state roads, plus you have to maintain it, but the question is if you want to continue using it or not.”
Town Attorney John Gesmonde pointed out that the grant was received from the state under the assumption that the field was being moved so by using it, “you may be violating some terms attached to the grant money.”
Since the meeting, Therrien has contacted the State Grant Manager who said the field can remain open for now but “does have to be closed at some point.” Therrien said the town’s insurance company will evaluate the field on Dec. 12 and the Council can reexamine the issue at its first meeting of 2013.
Representatives from NBLL spoke at the meeting, talking about the needs of the 480+ children who play in the league.
“We are short fields every year,” said NBLL President Joe Mascari. “Coaches take money out and rent field time because there are just not enough fields. We’d like to put the younger PeeWee kids on it, plus it would let us use the concession stand that’s already in place to raise funds to keep payment down for the kids.”
NBLL Vice President Andy Sola echoed Mascari’s sentiments, also noting that “a lot of people put time and effort into our programs and it’s historical as well.”
Dudley Harrison, a lifelong North Branford resident, also spoke out in favor of saving Wall Field, remembering playing on that field when he was little “when they didn’t even have Little League.”
“We need to keep it open space,” said Harrison. “Don’t get rid of it.”