Sports fields hearing tonight

>Wetlands on Brox property an issue

MILFORD – The Plan­ning Board and Conserva­tion Commission will hold a joint meeting tonight to review and hear com­ments on site plans for two sports fields on the Brox property.

The multipurpose fields would be the first develop­ment on the town-owned property, and they would be in what are called the Brox community lands – about 140 acres of the property planned for com­munity facilities as they become needed.

The meeting was origi­nally planned for July 5, but Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Lang­dell said board members were concerned that peo­ple who want to attend might be away for a long July Fourth weekend. Be­cause this is a municipal project, the town doesn’t need approval from the Planning Board and Con­servation Commission, but it does need to abide by all applicable state and federal regulations, including state Depart­ment of Environmental protection rules, Langdell said.

Based on findings by the Milford Community Ath­letic Association in 2013, Milford’s current fields are being overused and more sports fields are an immediate need.

The Brox master plan calls for playing fields on 25 acres south of the pro­posed extension of Heron Pond Road to be used for soccer, field hockey, la­crosse and baseball, with potential joint use with a new school that could be needed by 2035.

Langdell said the board will want to know what the plans are for acces­sory features, includ­ing parking, restrooms, lighting and concession stands.

The MCAA fields on North River Road have evolved over time, she said, and fields and porta-potties would serve im­mediate needs, but the board will want to know what the plans are for fu­ture development.

The master plan for the community lands says the 88 buildable acres should be saved for schools, emergency services, cem­eteries and conservation to meet town needs over the next 20-25 years.

The plans have drawn the opposition of the citi­zens group Brox Environ­mental Citizens, which says the area is part of a valuable wetlands com­plex, home to rare and endangered reptiles.

The master plan as well as a recent natural resource inventory say there are significant wet­land areas and vernal pools in the community lands that should be pro­tected from the impact of future development and "should be deeded as con­servation land/permanent open space immediately."

Selectman Kevin Fed­erico said he would like to see a plan that re­sponds to environmental concerns while providing badly needed field space.

The town’s multipur­pose sports fields on North River Road "never get any rest" that would let healthy grass grow, he said, and closing the fields for what is called "recrowning," to allow for proper drainage, would mean 18-24 months when there would be no youth baseball or soccer.

"Absolutely, there is still a desperate need" for more fields, he said, considering the number of local young people en­gaged in sports.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14, in the third-floor audito­rium at Town Hall.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.