Nonnewaug Chiefs Pop Warner submitted a proposal to Region 14's Board of Education, to use the football fields in September and October for home games. Pop Warner presently plays in Bethlehem.
"I think this can become a beacon and a source of community pride," said Jim Uberti at a Tuesday, Sept. 4, .
The board agreed to ask the Region 14 administration to draft an agreement and will look it over at
Pete Masi, president of Pop Warner, said he wants a better link to the high school programs.
"The field at Bethlehem has come under scrutiny by our league," he said, adding that while it is OK for play now, it might not be soon due to hard-packed clay in the infield and concerns about injuries.
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Can Nonnewaug's Fields Handle Extra Play?
Board member Pamela Zmek said she is concerned that at this time next year, Nonnewaug's football team will be at a board meeting saying the fields are being used too much.
Region 14's Director of Grounds and Maintenance, Mike Molzon, said he's concerned about wear and tear on the fields.
"We don't have power there to support the scoreboard," he said.
Molzon said improvements can be taken care of once the field is renovated.
"I think that's something to consider and maybe get that project moved along," he said.
Misconceptions and Rumors
Zmek expressed unhappiness over a rumor circulating around the Region 14 community.
"I have to say my phone has never rung more with the news that this was going to be discussed tonight," she said at the Tuesday, Sept. 4, Region 14 Board of Education meeting.
Zmek said it troubled her to find out that community members think Pop Warner's move to NHS is a done deal.
"Then I found out that the goal posts were removed from Bethlehem and schedules were posted," she said, schedules indicating that games were taking place at NHS. "That upset me a bit because I don't like doing business that way. I want to remind people that we are a region and Bethlehem loves having Pop Warner here on Sundays. They love the festivity of it and having the kids there on Sunday. I'm in favor of having them stay in Bethlehem."
Zmek said she feels the situation could have been handled better.
"I'm a little sad at the way that this has come up and the way this has been handled," said Zmek. "I certainly hope it wasn't a done deal before we came here tonight, even though all signs point that it was. That's not how I like to do business."
Masi said moving to NHS is not considered a done deal.
"In fact, we were of the mindset that maybe it wouldn't happen this year," he said.
The goal posts? They're removed, by order of the town of Bethlehem, at the end of the season, Masi said.
"It's not that we took them down, we just haven't put them up yet," he said.
Bethlehem Selectman Ed Roden said at first, the town hadn't heard from Pop Warner that the organization wanted to move games to Nonnewaug.
"We feel a little bit like the Baltimore Colts," he said. "After having talked with Dr. Uberti and Pete Masi, they see the error of their ways in not bringing it up to us and at least discussing it."
Stipulations Should Be in Place
William Nemec, Dean of Students/Athletic Director, said he supports Pop Warner's proposal, but stipulations should be in place.
"Can we support a facility like this with the manpower we have?" he said. "Initially, as people have said, it's a no brainer unless you're looking at the big picture and doing that, that's my job, as the athletic director."
Nemec favored a probationary period for Pop Warner using Nonnewaug's fields.
"The benefits outweigh the negatives of having that many people out there," he said.
Show Us the Money
Board member Maryanne Van Aken said that if NHS Principal Jody Goeler and Nemec support the move to NHS, then she supports that decision too but is in favor of a trial period.
"My other concern is, and Jim Uberti knows this, is 'show us the money'," she said. "Sweeten the pot and give us grass seed for Mike [Molzon] to throw down and I'm happy."