Treeline to act as buffer at Fawn Meadow

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NAUGATUCK — Trees that will acts as buffers will be planted at Fawn Meadow, the site of Naugatuck’s soon-to-be sports practice facility.

The trees will offer privacy and a divider between the youth sports field and the residents of the abutting Mulberry Street Extension.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved a funding request for just less than $6,000 to pay for new plantings by a 6-4 tally Tuesday.

That approval did not come without some argument, as the split board expressed strong feelings on the matter.

The Fawn Meadow site off of Mulberry Street Extension will be converted into a youth sports practice field.

“We don’t have a lot of athletic fields as it is,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said. “We have obtained the neighbors wants and we should do this. If you look at it and compare the value it is certainly a worthwhile investment.”

Others feel the venture is unnecessary and not something the borough should be allocating funding for.

“I have a big problem with, given the economic climate that we’re in, putting aside six thousand dollars for this,” Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi said. “I can’t support this. I think it’s ludicrous.”

The Park Commission and Department of Public Works decided to address foreseen privacy issues prior to the opening of the field, which should be online for this coming fall, to avoid potential problems with residents that they felt would have developed quickly after the field’s opening.

“I got a general feeling in the meeting we held with all of the residents living nearby that they want this issue handled before we get the field is up and running,” Public Works Director Jim Stewart said.

There is disagreement about what some feel was a premature decision; those opposed said the problem should be assessed and observed before any decisions are made.

“We don’t even have the field up yet to know whether or not it’s going to be an issue,” Rossi said. “Why not wait to see the situation after the field opens?”

Mezzo defended the Park Commission’s decision to take prior action, and opined that if its member felt there will be a problem, they’re most likely correct.

“The Park Commission does their homework,” Mezzo said. “They know what they’re doing and they do it well. I respect the time they put into this, and I feel they’re making the right decision here.”

The trees will be 6- to 7-foot pines and will line the area abutting neighboring residential property. There will also be a guardrail erected around the field to inhibit cars from driving on the surface, something that has already happened on a few occasions.

There are some questions as to whether or not the trees would be on borough or private land. Stewart says as far as he is concerned, the plan is to place all plants on borough property.

In a study conducted last year by the borough Engineering Department, the Fawn Meadow property was ranked among the highest of all parcels considered for potential sports use in Naugatuck. The land scored well in categories such as parking, traffic, remediation, topography and availability, but faltered in one category: neighborhood impact.

“Unfortunately we don’t have all that many places where we can have fields, and a lot of the spots we do have are by homes,” Mezzo said Tuesday.

Some felt the funding measure was outside the borough board’s purview.

“Why should we have to pay for this?” Burgess Mindy Fragoso asked. “I don’t think it’s the borough’s responsibility to put these trees here and I’m very against it. Especially if anything falls on private property; if those people decide to cut the trees down, now it’s the borough’s responsibility to put them up again.”

Rossi’s sentiments mirrored Fragoso’s.

“By doing this, we’re entering into a very convoluted and gray area,” she said. “I just don’t think its something the borough should be paying for. It’s not the town’s responsibility to protect people that knew this was a possibility before they moved there.”

The borough has restricted use of the field, which will not be official size, for youth practice games and for organized sports activities on weekends. The idea is to use the new field for practice during the week in order to free up and rest the fields that are used on weekends for games. Lights will not be installed at Fawn Meadow, and there will be no activities allowed after dusk. Citizens will be allowed to utilize the park for recreation only on weekends.