This article was written by Ethan Sands, a junior at South Windsor High School, and originally published in the school’s student newspaper, The Bobcat Prowl.
SOUTH WINDSOR, CT — October 24, South Windsor Education Council voted unanimously to continue the $7.5 million campus improvement plan presented by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter.
The proposed renovations include a new lighted multi-sport field, several new tennis courts, new pickleball courts and a new campus entrance from Ayers Road.
According to school board President Craig Zimmerman, the improvement plan is still in the early stages of development. The project was not formally proposed to the board until Oct. 19 and must still go through several stages of approval, including an affirmative referendum vote, before construction can begin.
Adding a lighted field has been a hot topic in South Windsor for several decades, Zimmerman said. The issue was brought to the attention of the Board of Education several times during this period, but it failed the one time the city, operating outside the jurisdiction of the BOE, brought it to referendum for another place.
Previous BOE proposals for the location of the floodlit lot, none of which had even been put to referendum, had drawn criticism from neighbors who were concerned about light and noise pollution outside of business hours.
The new lighted field, however, will be adjacent to the annex where the Little League baseball field and high school tennis courts are currently located. Although the school system is fully committed to being a good neighbor, Zimmerman stressed that it is too early in the process to know and address some of the neighbors’ concerns.
South Windsor Secondary School is the only school in its District Reference Group without a lit football field. Football defensive coordinator Kevin Quinn says this “creates a competitive disadvantage for our players.”
Football coach David Hodge agrees, adding that the lack of a lit field negatively affects the ability of all Bobcat sports teams to practice effectively, especially as it starts to get dark earlier .
In addition to the lighted multipurpose turf, new tennis and pickleball courts will be installed on the high school campus across the street from campus. Senior Center. They will be open to the public during after-school and school-sponsored activity hours in a much more accessible location, especially for seniors who might not be able to walk down the hill to where currently the tennis courts.
“What sets this proposal apart from previous proposals is that it has many aspects: a new road, an additional turf field with lights and new tennis and pickleball courts,” said Director Frank Rizzuto at The Prowl. “He has great potential.”
English teacher Carmela Dahms-Lodge lives across the street from the proposed construction site. As a parent and teacher of many student-athletes in the South Windsor School District, she fully supports the plan.
“I think it’s a shame for our students, our children, that we don’t have a (lit) field,” she said. She does, however, have some concerns about the cost of the project and hopes the city will be able to find sponsors and partners to help reduce the financial burden on taxpayers.
Dahms-Lodge also mentioned the lack of traffic infrastructure that worries her, as someone who walks to school. She noted instances where she and other students walking to school were nearly hit by motorists.
The new driveway that will be paved along the annex aims to reduce some of the school traffic in the morning and afternoon, thus making it safer for students who go to school on foot or by bike.
Plan approval is still pending, but if everything goes according to the proposed schedule, construction will begin in April 2024 and be completed in November.