The Region 9 Board of Education is moving forward with a project to make improvements to Joel Barlow High School’s Nest building and athletic fields.
The estimated $3. 6 million project named the Joel Barlow Community Enhancement Project includes a new building near the school’s stadium with ADA-compliant bathrooms, two team rooms, safety-weather protection, ticket sales, kitchen and concession areas, and a new turf field where a grass field currently exists.
At its Jan. 20 meeting the school board approved not to exceed an appropriation of $30,000 for the site work design, engineering, and permits required for the project.
“The Region 9 Board of Education will continue to thoughtfully consider the importance of this project and balance its need with the financial resources available to the district,” said Mike D’Agostino, ER9’s school board chairperson.
The project will be funded through a combination of private donations and government funds. The Barlow Community Enhancement Project, (BCEP) a private group made up of parents, neighbors, alumni and fans of Barlow has been raising awareness and hosting fundraising events for the project.
The town of Redding has secured $250,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act funds to be put towards the project. Easton will not be contributing its ARPA funds. Those funds are earmarked to pay for a new EMS headquarters, said First Selectman David Bindelglass.
Those involved in the Nest project say athletic facilities are in high demand by the high school and youth programs. Adding another field allows efficient and consistent scheduling for games and practices.
Statistics cited in the school board’s presentation on the project stated that 70 percent of Barlow students participate in a sport, including including 277 female student athletes and 255 male student athletes. In addition, 274 Barlow students participate in more than one sport and there are 80 coaches supporting the teams. Barlow has won a remarkable five state championships in athletics in the past year and several teams have been awarded the Michael’s Cup for sportsmanship over the years.
“The proposed improvements to the existing field would reduce the number of late evening practice times, enabling students to get home earlier,” said D’Agostino. “In addition, the board remains committed to ensuring all of our teams have equitable access to the synthetic surface.”
Michael Santangeli, Joel Barlow’s athletic director, has said that the athletic participation rates at Joel Barlow High School show no sign of falling below the current 70 percent of students currently enrolled in sports programs.
“We have a huge commitment to athletics here,” said Santangeli. “It’s really a big part of the fabric of this community. It would be nice to give them a facility that has everything.”
Emily Eubanks, a BCEP team member, is excited about the project.
“I personally am most excited to have ADA-compliant bathrooms so that all of our guests and fans will have access to facilities,” Eubanks said. “In addition to the bathrooms, the additional parking spaces will alleviate congestion in the adjacent neighborhoods. It’s a win-win.”
A project presentation with detailed renderings has been posted to the ER9 website, and a narrated video will provide more detailed context to the community. The BCEP group will continue to share links to its presentations and will be presenting updated information to the respective boards of finance from Easton and Redding.
Visit the Nest’s website to learn more about the BCEP’s goals and continued fundraising efforts.