BROOKFIELD -- Ten-year resident Rick Tedesco is not a regular visitor to Cadigan Park.
One day this week he sat at a paint-splattered picnic table waiting for a cellphone call as the fields were mowed.
Asked whether the town should upgrade the park, bought for $58,000 in 1968, that some 2,000 children and adults regularly use for soccer, lacrosse, football, softball, cheerleading and summer camp programs on the two adjoining fields, Tedesco was not enthusiastic.
"They should lower our taxes,'' said the 51-year-old father of three. "In this economy, we need to cut the budget back and not spend on frivolous things.''
Parks & Recreation Director Dennis DiPinto and First Selectman Bill Davidson hope such sentiments are in the minority come the beginning of 2013, when they hope to ask voters to support spending as much as $6 million to refurbish, renovate and rebuild portions of both Cadigan Park and the Brookfield Town Park, the Candlewood Lake beach located across the street.
In spring 2010, town residents rejected "by a modest margin'' a $5 million parks renovation project attached to a $10 million road bonding project and half million-dollar raze and renovation of Kids' Kingdom, the municipal playground. The five-year road bond, which has two years to go, was approved, and Kids' Kingdom II was approved in a separate referendum to match a $250,000 state grant.
At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Davidson and DiPinto outlined the planned upgrades and expected costs.
As a result of lessons learned from the first parks' project rejection, Davidson said the initial proposal for a year-round community center/meeting hall at the beach has been scaled back 30 percent and a state grant for $750,000 was awarded to pay for the building.
Drainage and erosion issues have led to a crumbling seawall; the sidewalks need to be repaired and made handicapped accessible, and the restrooms and picnic areas all need to be upgraded, DiPinto said.
The Brookfield Town Park was purchased in 1965 for $200.
Watching their 9-year-old grandson, Gary Hull, of Bethel, play in the sand on the beach early this week, Gary and Mary Weisensee said money is an issue, but they love that the community has the park and would not like to see it lost to neglect.
"This is a benefit to Brookfield ... and the need (for repairs) is
definitely there,'' Mary said.
"It's just hard to do it all,'' Gary Weisensee said.
DiPinto told the selectmen that the parks have served the community well for many years, but the facilities are tired from overuse and neglect. The tennis courts at Cadigan Park have been locked up for five years because the surfaces are too dangerous for play.
In the plans at Cadigan Park, one of the fields would remain a natural field, the other would be a synthetic field suitable for the growth in youth recreation and adult recreation teams, he said. The pavilion and bathrooms would be renovated, and a half-mile track around the fields would be an added amenity.
Selectman Howard Lasser said he favors these improvements, but to win public support, "we are going to need to sharpen our pencils" because $6 million would be a big challenge to sell to taxpayers. He said he thinks the price tag needs to be dropped by at least $1 million.
Davidson admits that the project is going to need some financial fine-tuning and marketing for it to pass muster with residents. His hope is that the bond package can be configured so that there is no impact on taxes.
"We're doing this for ourselves, for our recreation and so as to have a better community,'' Davidson said.
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