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A perfect birthday workday. Track project update.

POSTED August 27, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Well, I just completed another successful run around the sun and don’t feel much different than I did the day before my birthday.

Seems to me if you’re happy the day before and the day after, the one in the middle is simply another good day to be alive!

Too often, people put far too much emphasis on one day being about them when in reality, everyday should be about them.

A couple of folks who posted on Facebook (regardless of their larger issues, this is a positive tool) hoped I was going to relax and enjoy my special day and I certainly appreciate the sentiment but my best kind of day is just the kind I had on Tuesday when double-nickel changed to a five followed by a six on the age scale.

Let’s see, I got up with my best friend and wife, Deb. Check in the great day column.

I heard from my daughters. Check in the great day column.

After getting the hard working Mrs. Gaffney off to work, I made my way down to the Torrington Turf Project for their Tuesday morning meeting with H.I. Stone to check progress on the nearly three million dollar track and turf make over.

Things are moving along at breakneck speed at this point. Over the weekend, more than 4500 tons of rock were brought to the site and spread over the turf section of the project. Rumor has it that the turf is on the way and when receiving more than 100 yards of turf, one cannot just leave it in the janitors closest while they get ready.

While many have worked to see this project happen for the better part of seven years, three have simply been relentless in their efforts to get it done.

State Representative Michelle Cook, Mario Longobucco and Ed Arum have been the most passionate supporters who simply will not let anyone or anything get in their way.

The naysayers were a plenty when Cook secured 2.72 million dollars in grant money from the State to turn an un-useable track and outdated and dangerous field surface into a state of the art, eight lane track with a turf field.

The positives were so easy to see. Sure, schools need money for any number of things more important but this grant was only available to do what is being done.

Our only response as a community (attention Board of Ed) should have been, “Thank you and how can we help?”

Instead though, petty arguments which included comical remarks about who would cut the turf field, who would line it and the best of all time, who would pay for the Zamboni?

Now, if any of those questions seem real to you, please refer to just what those things do and mean and if you don’t, please feel free to give yourself a time out for say, a decade….

Longobucco, the Raiders girls’ soccer coach, has been passionate (understatement) about cutting through the BS and getting this job done on time and under budget.

His depth of knowledge about the project is remarkable, from the largest detail to the smallest.

When opponents (still don’t get why there were any) said, “Let’s wait a year”, Longobucco reminded them of the increased costs that could occur while trying to keep his blood pressure at some reasonable level.

Common sense is big in his world and when it appears to not be present in others, Longobucco tends to get a bit heated but he simply wants to get this project done and done right without cutting corners.

Then there is Arum, the man who we should send overseas to get some major conflicts solved.

This man put up with more nonsense from those who should have recognized (like most of us did) that we had the absolute right guy for the job.

They don’t name a complex (Pomperaug High School Field) after a guy who doesn’t know his business.

At every meeting I have every sat in on that included Arum, he was organized to the “T” and anticipated most questions before they came up.

At times, we as a community did not treat this man who has given so much of himself for the betterment of Torrington High School with the proper respect and to those who did that, shame on you.

Last time I checked, Arum (or any of the other Turf Committee members) was not getting a dime for his work on behalf of the student/athletes and the general public who will have a terrific new track to utilize.

This is after all, a community project.

The completion date stands steady for October 6, 2014. Some home games will have to be moved; football loses two games, soccer may be played on the practice field which is more than adequate and lest titled than the old field.

Over the next month, work on a new front entrance to the complex will take place and part of the parking lot will have to be closed off to allow trucks to pour concrete for the pillars and the making of the gateway.

To say that the entrance to the Robert H Frost Complex has been non-descript is a really big understatement.

Come early October, fans will be greeted by an entrance way that will be visible once you pull into the main parking lot.

Right now a small entrance surrounded by old fencing makes for a tight fit for fans trying to enter.

Speaking of Robert H, his monument, which so many of us did not realize was even still there, will take its proper place under the new scoreboard, facing the incoming public.

I can hear it now though, the critics will pounce on the parking lot issue as if the project was about to make teachers and students walk three miles, uphill, both ways to get to the school.

Stop it. To those who have not supported this project I say stay as quiet as you have been when things have been going well, week after week.

The Torrington Board of Education is going to be asked to chip in some money before this is done as well and boy will that be a fun meeting in which it will be made to sound as if the Turf Committee was asking for two or three million dollars.

Again, stop it. The fines from the state that the school district was accumulating over the past few years for a lack of proper handicap accessibility is staggering. Most, if not all of those issues have been solved by a project they have so far refused to show public support for.

This is going to be a crown jewel right in our back yard.

I expect grown-ups to act like it. In sports terms, act like you have been there before, not like it’s your first touchdown.

Later Tuesday afternoon, it was back to the high school for some pre-season action.

As I made my way up through the maze of fences that now define the way to the practice fields while the turf project wraps up, I came upon as active a sports scene as anybody could wish for.

Two soccer teams were in one section, Mike Fritch Jr. and the boys were taking on Northwestern in a scrimmage they would win, 6-4.

Fritch Jr. and the boys are coming off a terrific season but lost much to graduation. Many of the key spots, including goalie are still up in the air this season.

Longobucco and his girls were also hard at work. This is going to be a challenging season for the girls who also ae looking to fill key spots and like the boys, the net minder is one of them.

Gaitan Rodriquez and the football team practiced closer to the high school as they prepare for their 2014 campaign that will have them road warriors more than usual.

While all this was going on, the crews were hard at work on the field that will benefit all three of these teams within six weeks.

My first day of being a member of a new age group wrapped up with dinner with Mrs. Gaffney and some time with our dog, Lilly and our grand dog Frankie.

It’s the kind of day I’d take any day of the week and thanks to the development of this site, I get to do as often as I like.

Hey, today feels just as good as yesterday and I’m guessing tomorrow will be pretty cool as well.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.       

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here