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Fairfield Approves Changes to Gould Manor Park

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Gould Manor Park will get its facelift. The Board of Selectmen approved a deal between the town and Fairfield American Little League to allow the league to reconfigure the Holland Hill Road park’s baseball diamonds this off-season.

The Selectmen approved the contract by a 2-1 vote despite protests from about 10 neighbors who came out for the Friday afternoon meeting. The neighbors became noticeably frustrated as the meeting wore on. Tony Pontecorvo, president of the Gould Manor Neighborhood Association, actually walked out of the meeting before the final vote because he felt his concerns weren’t being heard.

“It’s been a done deal from the start,” Pontecorvo said as he exited the Sullivan Independence Hall conference room. “I’ve had it.”

Fairfield American’s plan will take the park’s two baseball diamonds and move them from opposing ends of Gould Manor to the center of the space. The shift means balls will be batted away from players on the other diamond. This is a safety improvemet since, in the current setup, outfielders have their backs turned to balls coming from the other field.

But the parks’ neighbors were concerned about another provision of the deal—that Fairfield American will place temporary home run fences along the fields during the season. The league currently does not use fences other than the required backstops and dugout shields. “With the fences there, the park is not the same park,” said neighbor Susan Hennessy.

League representatives countered that the home run fences were a vital part of the project. League president David Pierpont said it would prevent “ground-ball home runs” from extending games unnecessarily. It would also allow the league to host teams from out of town during summer seasons.

“Teams will not come to Fairfield—and they’ve said this explicitly—unless they have [home-run fences],” said league Vice President Steve Schwartz.

Selectman Sherri Steeneck offered a series of proposed amendments to the deal that would get rid of the home run fences, or at least limit them to playoff time. “I just don’t think it’s necessary,” she said. But each time, Selectman James Walsh and First Selectman Michael Tetreau voted down the changes. Steeneck ended up casting the lone dissenting vote on the contract.

Work will start on the fields next week. The changes should be ready by the start of the 2012 season next April.

What do you think about the changes planned for Gould Manor Park? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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