A long-term plan toward improving city recreational facilities took another step in the past weeks as a request for bid was put out by city officials to complete a project at Veterans Memorial Field. The Bull Hill Lane facility was given an upgrade five years ago with the construction of new lavatory facilities and team rooms. But the project was incomplete, according to officials, and will be completed under this plan.
The park is currently home to Notre Dame football, soccer, and lacrosse teams, the Ray Tellier Midget Football League, and has been rented out by various semi-pro football teams. All will have use of the upgraded facilities.
According to Ken Carney, who oversees construction projects for the administration of Mayor Nancy Rossi, the request for bid was only recently put out, and will include the following:
A bathroom will be plumbed and finished for the home locker room;
The home locker room open joist ceiling will be painted;
Windows will be added to both locker rooms to provide light;
The home team bathroom floor will receive an epoxy finish;
Both the home team and the visitor team locker room will receive upgrades to ventilation.
“All of this work is a continuation from the last project, but all part of the master plan for seasonal home and visitor team locker rooms,” Carney said.
Because of the bidding process, Carney was reticent to discuss costs and estimates, saying bidders might “bid to the budget.”
Carney said renovation of an existing structure into a concession stand is also part of the master plan, but not in the current budget.
“The basketball courts were recently refurbished. A dog park is in design phase, and An electronic LED sign is installed at the entrance of the facility,” he said.
The funding will come from a Local Capital Improvement Program grant (LoCIP) from the State of Connecticut, and according to Mayor Rossi is part of a wider plan to upgrade city parks and recreational venues.
“The (city) has surveyed all our parks and athletic facilities and is making necessary repairs and performing needed upgrades,” she said. ”The current request for bids is to finish the team rooms at Veterans Memorial Park. The city received a state grant in the amount of $500,000 in 2013 to construct restrooms and team rooms. A project was initiated in 2016 but some of the work on the facility was not completed and the funds were expended.”
She said another improvement is being considered for Veterans Park.
“We are currently assessing the feasibility of constructing a small playground at the location and enhancing the cinder walking track used by city residents. Potential future projects include expanding concession stand facilities and upgrading security,” she said.
Rossi said the current plan is part of an overall outlook to make improvements and enhancements to all city parks.
“The City of West Haven is fortunate to have a beautiful shorefront, many parks, and athletic facilities throughout the city. We now have a plan to make necessary repairs and upgrades and will make sure they are properly maintained moving forward,” she said..
A huge proponent of the upgrades is former Ray Tellier Midget Football League president and coach, Mike Last. He was instrumental in the fist improvements going through, and is looking forward to the current plan coming to fruition.
Knowing the toxic political situation, he and other officials want to scotch any notion that Last’s more recent position as Democratic Town Chairman is influencing the project.
That particular question was posed, and he pointed to his decades-long advocacy for the facility.
“I have lobbied for the upgrade of athletic facilities at Veterans Field for 20 years and I am happy that the mayor and City Council made state grant funds available for the projects. It was not my affiliation or position with a political party, but my love and loyalty for West Haven youth sports and my 38 years as a volunteer with the Ray Tellier Midget Football League that enticed me to volunteer to help coordinate these park and facility upgrades,” he said. “These park and facility upgrades are good for the community at large and the West Haven student athletes that will use them.”
Once finished, Last believes the improvements will further enhance a facility he believes is a credit to the city.
“I think Veterans Memorial Park is a gem and I have been advocating for continued improvements since the inception of the athletic facilities there in 2000. West Haven is a great sports town, and these upgraded facilities will be enjoyed by football, cheerleading, soccer and lacrosse teams. This is part of a larger park upgrade that included the resurfacing of the basketball courts last year, a new dog park this coming spring and hopefully a playground,” he said.