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A 2.73 million dollar gift all in Torrington should be happy to have.

POSTED September 03, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Somebody is going to have to explain to me why a $2.73 million dollar grant from the State of Connecticut to improve the playing fields at Torrington High School can ever be anything but a no-brainer.

Let me see. Its money the citizens of T-Town have paid to Hartford and are getting back to improve field conditions, namely the football/soccer field and track that have seen a better day.

Many dedicated local folks have put in countless hours since 2007 trying to get this done and it has finally happened!

When can we break ground?

What should be a slam dunk has been apparently reported in some circles as an issue that has ruffled certain folk’s feathers.

Here’s how the money was attained in the first place, who controls it and who’s is appearing not to happy to have it (really?).

Speaking with several people who had a hand in this, including State Representative Michelle Cook, Ed Arum, Mario Longobucco and Torrington Mayoral candidate Elinor Carbone, it was real hard to see any down side to this.

Cook put in the necessary paperwork to the Bond Commission in Hartford (that’s her job, try and get the people she represents available funds for projects) and received notice a few weeks back that the money would be given to the City of Torrington for improvements to the sport facilities at Torrington High School.

What came back was a grant from the DEEP and it is stated that these grants are not to be used for staffing, books or the like but strictly for community based projects.

If you’ve been to a Torrington soccer or football game, stand on the opposite side of the stands and look down and then over to the other side of the field.

When you look down, watch your step on one of six metal covers that cover drains around the field, all of them in play for soccer.

As you look across the field, understand that when a football coach asks his running backs to run “downhill” you truly can on the slanted portion of the field that makes players legs disappear from sight.

Not normal and a serious injury waiting to happen.

The track, which is open to the public 365 days a year, is just that, a community benefit that we folks in Torrington get to use.

Torrington is not a spot where you see major track invitational's take place, the facilities are not up to par.

The High Jump area along with the Pole Vault site have fallen apart over time.   

As James Earl Jones said in the movie, Field of Dreams “Fix it and they will come”.

Okay that wasn’t the line but you get my drift. Make the track more suitable for major events, get the event and the hundreds of fans who attend and just may stick around and have dinner, get gas or something silly like put money into the Torrington economy.

Furthermore, the bleachers and press box (Yes!!!) are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

We are not asking for a Rentschler Field type press box but room for 10-15 people would be fantastic with some heat and air to boot! 

The money was given to the City of Torrington, not to the Board of Education or any other city agency.

But, the Board of Education will have a hand in this based on the work being done on facilities they are responsible for.

Communication is often a problem in so many basic issues and this seems to be one of those cases.

Ego's or hurt feelings need to be put aside perhaps on both sides and a special meeting of the Board of Education that invites the players who have been working this project since 2007 need to be part of the process. 

One of the biggest supporters of this project is Arum, a man was has proven time and time again that he knows how to get these kind of projects done.

Arum, one of those working on this since 2007, was behind improving the facilities at Pomperaug High School using money received from the State for a specific project.

“Our tax dollars have already paid for this,” Arum said. “Torrington is just getting it back from Hartford.”

Seems like an easy win for Torrington, right?

Should be but there appears to be some ruffled feathers within the Board of Education regarding how the process did not go through them.

Clearly it’s not money earmarked for the Board of Ed even though every school has additional needs in these trying economic times.

Bringing and keeping students at Torrington High School is always a goal of any Board of Ed and if this helps with that process, why not?

The efforts of the Turf Committee have been remarkable. For years they tried but seemed to hit a brick wall at some point during their efforts.

Finally, they got a break. Why on earth anybody should do anything but say thank you to Cook and her friends in Hartford for making this happen?

The improvements benefit the citizens of Torrington, not just the High School, an important distinction.

What’s next?

Over the next few weeks, a survey will need to be done on the fields to determine what’s were and what’s available.

Three bids will be looked at and a decision will be made on who gets the work. Planning and Zoning will need to in the mix so everything flows as it should.

Bids will then be accepted from architects who will design the future of the sports fields around the school.

Arum and the Turf Committee hope to have work start in the spring of 2014 with hopes of having the project done by the fall of 2014.

Having input from key players such as Torrington Athletic Director Mike McKenna and Facilities Director Dave Bascetta is critical to getting the planning portion done right.

After being part of the process for some time, both have been told by someone not to attend further meetings for the time being.

Let’s just have a car without a driver why don’t we?

Bascetta will be maintaining the facilities, his input, along with McKenna’s is very important and we are simply having a power of political moment, those pulling those strings just need to let go.

This is a smart move for THS and the City of Torrington.

Can we not handle good news?

Is the gift horse being looked right smack in its mouth?

Come on people, snap out of it, get behind this and make it happen.

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