Increases have been proposed for the Bethel Parks and Recreation budget for 2013-14 to rehabilitate an athletic field and build a new one.
Parks and Recreation Director Eileen Earle and Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Meghan O’Connor presented the department’s budget request Thursday at a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance.
They asked for an operating budget of $938,673, an increase of $48,325, or 5.4 percent, over the current year’s $890,348 allocation. Some of that increase would pay for new maintenance equipment and trucks to replace old, worn out equipment and vehicles.
But most of the presentation was devoted to two projects listed in the department’s capital budget, $25,000 to restore the athletic field at Berry School and $36,000 to prepare design plans for a new athletic field on the Kowalsky property on Old Hawleyville Road.
Earle and O’Connor said the Berry School field needs aeration and reseeding to restore the playing surface, which has gotten so hard and barren that there is an increased risk of athletic injuries, including concussions.
There is also increased competition for use of the field by public school and youth league soccer, lacrosse and football teams, they said.
Rentals for the field vary from $75 to $100 for daylight hours and $150 for nighttime hours.
O’Connor noted that the Parks and Recreation Department takes in almost enough in revenue from rentals over the year to pay for its entire operating budget.
Earle said it would be best to do the restoration work in the early summer to take advantage of the school schedule and the best grass-growing weather. “The best time to get the grass to grow is when the schools aren’t open,” she said.
She showed the selectmen and Board of Finance members a preliminary drawing for an athletic field at the 6.2-acre Kowalsky property. It called for a large all-purpose field that could be used for soccer, football or lacrosse.