Foes of girls' softball field force vote on $350,000 project
Opponents of a plan to issue $350,000 in bonding to construct a girls' softball field on town-owned land on Hoydens Lane gave succeeded in qualifying for a townwide vote on the project.
Town Clerk Betsy Browne said Friday afternoon that organizers of the petition drive on Tuesday turned in more voter signatures than the 1,766 required. "I stopped (certifying and counting) at 1,800" signatures, Browne said.
Now, the Board of Selectmen will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Sullivan-Independence Hall to set a date for the referendum. It could be held Aug. 10, the same day as primaries for state offices, but the voting on the referendum would have to be held in a separate room since all local voters would be eligible to cast ballots in the referendum, according to state officials. But only those enrolled in political parties can participate in their respective primaries,
The town charter calls for voting hours for referendums to be from noon to 8 p.m., but that can be extended at the discretion of the selectmen.
Bonding for the field proposed on Hoyden's Lane, which would be designated for use by the Fairfield Girls Softball Little League, passed the RTM by a two-vote margin last month.
Paul Hiller, the town's chief fiscal officer, said the $350,000 would cost 92.5 cents a year per taxpayer for 15 years.
"This is a very small project," First Selectman Kenneth Flatto said previously. "I understand for some it is a symbolic issue, but let's be clear, the referendum has been orchestrated mainly by area neighbors."
Of the 8.5-acre site, purchased by the town for $1.8 million in 2007, three acres would be used for the softball field, bathrooms and parking lot. Another one acre is potentially slated to be cultivated as an organic farm.
Flatto said he believes the project has widespread town support and noted that in order to stop the use of bonds for the project, more than 8,000 voters would have to ballot in favor of overturning the RTM's action, as well as be in the majority.