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Torrington Turf and Track Project nears completion despite opposition.

POSTED October 06, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It’s here. It’s time.

The much anticipated completion of the nearly three million dollar Torrington High School Turf and Track Project is within reach of those who have worked so hard to get it completed on time and on budget.

An inspection is due this morning with the hopes that a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy will be granted, allowing play back on a field that has seen no action since the end of the 2013 track campaign.

Having watched this process from the moment the 2.72 million dollar grant was given to the City of Torrington for facilities improvements of a community based project, I have attended meetings of all sorts.

Board of Education meetings, Turf Committee meetings or City Council Meetings, I’ve been to a bunch so I have gotten a pretty good feel for just what has and has not been going on throughout.

I am still astounded that even as we approach the finish line, certain segments in this community would still enjoy seeing this project fail and would take a certain degree of satisfaction if it did.

Let’s be candid. The Torrington Board of Education and the Torrington Turf Committee have not exactly been on the same page concerning this project since day one.

Contention has been there from the start since it was determined that this was going to be a Turf Committee and City run project, not one controlled by the BOE.

Maybe it was how it was presented, maybe it’s personal, who knows and who cares.

This is ridiculous and embarrassing to me, a Torrington resident who started his writing career covering sports on a track and field that was old and breaking down when I started back in 1999.

Too much focus, since the first day questions came up about who would cut, line or use the Zamboni on the turf field (I hope I don’t have to expand on the lunacy of the above inquires), has been on why this was in some way, a bad thing.

Understand, this facility will not open unless it is safe for the players and fans, the Turf Committee would never sacrifice safety for the sake of a game.

Heck, they waited this long.

We got nearly three million dollars for a community project that members of the Turf Committee have been working on for over seven years for no pay, they are a volunteer group.

Since day one, my only thoughts about this were that every single person who would benefit from this project would be tripping over each other to see ways in which they can help get this done.

Too many times though, road blocks and obstacles have been thrown in front of the Turf Committee as they worked to get the project going and again here late as they have arrived at the finish line.

At times, the Turf Committee has reached out to the Board of Education for financial help with items that came up during the process, not an unusual occurrence in any project.

Two things come to mind. Pads to cover the track and a net to go behind the visitors bleachers that would prevent balls from going down an embankment or onto Route 8 if the kid has a great leg.

The pads ran a little over $1100 dollars, the netting a bigger expense at over $11,000 dollars.

Now mind you, and this fact has never truly been addressed, the old facility was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the school district was in line for a boat load of fines if this was the year the ADA came a calling.

I have heard numbers that range from $125,000 to half a million dollars in fines.

By getting the entire area back into code, this project, which did not cost the BOE a penny, has taken a boat load of penalties off the table.

How is that a bad thing?

This complex is going to rank right up there with any in the area. The possibilities are endless for all involved.

Want to help promote the high school more to families thinking about moving to Torrington? Take them on a tour and after going on about an outstanding arts and music program that the school offers (amongst other great things), take them out to see the complex.

Want to increase school pride for the students? Just take them outside for look at what will be in their back yard during their four years at THS.

I would ask one thing of everyone involved in this project as it approaches the finish line.

It’s fourth and goal at the one with ten seconds left and all it’s going to take is a huge push from everyone on the Raiders side of this project.

Get behind this accomplishment, regardless of whether you were before the drive started or not.

We are trying to teach our kids how to work together, right?

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