Baseball field passes final hurdle

WOODBRIDGE - It appears that a 90-foot diamond for the Bethwood Baseball League at the Alegi property has passed the final regulatory hurdles, as it was approved by the Land Trust and the Planning and Zoning Board.

The plan calls for construction of a 90-foot baseball diamond and a playground at the town-owned site on Pease Road. The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the plans last month.

Neither project would be funded by the town. The Beth-Wood Baseball League would cover the costs of installing the baseball diamond. The Woodbridge Community Playground Committee, an unofficial group seeking non-profit status, would fund the playground.

The Land Trust approved the measure by a 6-to-1 vote, with two members abstaining, at its meeting Wednesday night.

The Land Trust only approved the baseball field part of the proposal, not the playground. Chairman Robert Gregg said they did not vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant playground because they simply ran out of time.

The Planning and Zoning Commission passed the complete proposal unanimously at its Tuesday night meeting. According to the meeting’s minutes, Board Chairman Jeff Kaufman said that “the Commission’s responsibility was to decide if the project belonged on the property and if it conformed to the Town Plan. Funding and other logistics were not a concern at this time.”

Gregg said the remaining part of the proposal may be voted on at the Trust’s next meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Center Building, room 16. He added that this is the Trust’s general annual meeting of the members.

Asked his opinion of the baseball field proposal, Gregg said he’d “rather not comment.”

“I think the individual votes should remain within the organization,” he said.

Gregg said the Trust is a “non-stock chartered corporation, not a government agency,” and, therefore, is not required to release meeting minutes.

One Land Trust member left the meeting before it ended. Lochlin Reidy said he didn’t think they would end up voting on the baseball field, so he left.

He said that if he stayed, he would have voted in favor of the proposal, as there was “no reason not to.” Reidy said the Trust’s job was only to determine whether the baseball field was acceptable under the conservation easement for the property, which permitted recreational uses.

Bob Hill, of the Beth-Wood Baseball League, said the baseball field is now moving “full-steam ahead.” He said that the next step is to begin fundraising.

Members of the Conservation Commission who oppose the proposal are planning to speak at Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Conservation Commission Chairwoman Maria Kayne said that the board made their decision about the baseball field without full knowledge of the facts.

“The question is whether this is the best use for a huge investment of the town when there are several viable alternatives,” she said.

But Hill said the Alegi property is the best option, citing a consultant’s study that puts the Alegi site at $300,000 cheaper than another property on Acorn Hill.

“I think the preponderance of evidence provided to each of these boards is that all those other options were explored and that this was our last option,” he said.

Kayne and other Conservation Commission members dispute the consultant’s study, citing a different study from State Soil Scientist Kipen J. Kolesinskas.