Little Compton only has one chance over the next two weeks to secure some serious funding to finally bring its worn-out recreation fields up to date. The Little Compton Town Council received that bold statement from the Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Commission on Thursday night.
Patrick McHugh, chairman of the commission, said they pursued a $250,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Management with a 50 percent match, and $150,000 through in-kind services. That leaves a request for the town to pony up approximately $93,700 to put in two new multi-use fields.
"As you know, there is a septic issue in the outfield," he said. "We don't know how bad it is, but it does flood. Progression from the infield to the outfield is bad. Kids have broken their ankles. Peckham lot is flooded constantly."
The council voted 4-0 in favor of the concept, without committing a financial figure. The School Committee did the same last Thursday. Council President Robert Mushen was absent from the meeting. The School Committee is holding an emergency meeting today at 3:45 p.m. at to discuss supporting the proposal.
McHugh said the matter is urgent, since the grant writer needs the funding realized by Nov. 1.
"There are not many other chances in this lifetime," he said. "Please look hard at this because you probably won't see it again. There is no more money coming from the state."
McHugh said Little Compton, as far as he knows, is the only town in Rhode Island with non-compliant recreation fields. A member of his commission stated they came up with the figure based on an estimate from a resident who builds ball fields, but have not completed any engineering studies.
"It should be an embarrassment to all," he added.
He said if they secure the funding in time, they won't know until January if they are awarded the grant.
At Thursday's meeting, School Committee Chairman Donald Gomez showed support for the endeavor, saying they are looking to come up with 37 percent of the town's funding. He said McHugh showed them five plans, including a larger one to drain Peckham lot near .
"It's a 50-year-old field," he said. "Kids need it and our recreation fields are just not in good shape."
Gomez said the application should state part of the project is for passive recreation, highlighting the adjacent to the ball fields.
Council Vice President Paul Golembeske and other council members understood the problem, adding their concern for public safety, the problems mowing it and the ongoing flooding problems. He said the council will look at the funds available from the Dundery Brook grant, as well as funding in the current budget, but that would hinge on public works monies for the winter.