Mayor John A. Harkins will cut the ribbon officially opening the newly renovated Stratford Academy Fields to the public at a brief ceremony scheduled for Friday, March 30th at 9:30 AM.
These fields, which will be among the Stratford sites hosting the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) 10U and 12U Girls’ Eastern Regional Softball Tournament this August, underwent a complete renovation in the last six months, which included new backstops, fencing, bleachers, player benches, bases, and infields for each of the four baseball/softball diamonds at the site, re-grading and repositioning of the diamonds themselves, a re-graded and expanded outfield area that can be now used for multi-sport activities such as football, lacrosse, and soccer and a state-of-the-art irrigation system to maintain the fields throughout their three seasons of use.
Another important feature of the renovation is a six-foot wide asphalt walking track that winds its way around the perimeter of the site and includes park benches at the main park entrance on Birdseye Street in addition to various tree plantings sprinkled along its length to complement the mature trees already on site.
The project represents Phase II of the larger Birdseye/Stratford Academy Field Improvements Project that began with the renovations and improvements to Birdseye Field completed in 2009. For Phase II, the total investment was $643,900, comprised of $485,000 in bond sale proceeds contained within the Town of Stratford Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the 2010 through 2012 fiscal years and $158,900 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds as set forth in the CDBG 2010 and 2011 Annual Action Plans. The CDBG Program, operated by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered locally by the Town of Stratford’s Office of Community Development, funds programs, projects, and activities designed to improve the quality of life in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The completion of the fields brings to a close a goal of both the Town CIP and the CDBG Action Plan documents to bring Stratford’s South End athletic fields and facilities up to par with those of other neighborhoods around Stratford. In addition to the completion of Birdseye Field in 2009, the Woodend Road Courts underwent a significant rebuilding in 2011.
Stephanie Philips, the 2nd District Councilman, who, as a member of the Community Development Subcommittee of the Economic and Community Development Commission, and former chair, advocated for the project along with Alvin O’Neal, her predecessor in the 2nd District Council seat, highlighted the economic and community development benefits of the project. “The renovated fields and walking track will certainly provide venues for top tier activities that benefit the whole town. As the final phase of the Birdseye Field, Woodend Road Courts, and Johnson Field Project, I am very pleased to see how it has uplifted neighborhood value, and increased the desirableness of the area.”
While the fields will be formally closed until June 1, 2012 to allow the sod laid last winter to take hold and mature and to finish project punch list items, the Stratford Academy community wanted to participate in a spring event to celebrate the completion of “their” fields. So to celebrate the project completion and the fields re-opening, the Stratford Academy Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) is hosting a PTSA Bobcat Walk-a-thon after the ribbon cutting to benefit the PTSA cultural arts and academic enrichment programs and the PTSA General Fund. The walk-a-thon will conclude a “Be-Fit” program that the PTSA has encouraged students and their families to participate in for the last six weeks. Students at Stratford Academy, the K-6 magnet school in Stratford, have been soliciting pledges from sponsors throughout the month of March. Significant corporate sponsorship has included contributions from Vaz Quality Works, LLC, the main subcontractor on the project, and other local business and family partners, including:
- A-Pro Construction,
- Alliance Promotional Products,
- Bounce U,
- Compare Foods,
- Competitive Training Solutions,
- Dennis & D’Arcy Funeral Home,
- Gaetano’s Italian Deli,
- New England Ballet Company,
- Prophet Financial Planning,
- R.B. Insulation,
- SoftLink Resources,
- Vazzy’s of Stratford.
All of the funds raised through the Walk-a-thon will go directly to fund programs and activities offered to the children of Stratford Academy through the PTSA.
Olga Peña, the Stratford Academy PTSA President, expressed her appreciation to Vaz Quality Works and the Town of Stratford. “The kids are very excited about having these brand new fields to play on.” She added, “The walking track will be a great asset to the school and will encourage our whole community to stay active and be fit.”
Mayor Harkins also had a word of praise for the project. “The improvements to these fields will not only benefit the school community and the neighborhood at large but also our expanding sports leagues and other amateur and recreational athletes throughout Stratford. The Town put this project on the fast track for completion, so that the fields would be ready for the ASA Girls’ Tournament this August and, thankfully, we had a mild winter which helped us to complete it in record time. My thanks goes out to the contractor, their subcontractors, and all members of the project development team for making it possible,” stated Mayor Harkins. “The work done at this location shows a larger commitment to making all of our town parks places for Stratford residents to enjoy.”
The Project Landscape Architect was BSC Group with offices in Glastonbury, Connecticut and the General Contractor was Tiago Construction, LLC of Bridgeport.