HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A meeting here tonight could determine the future of a controversial new stadium at Quinnipiac University.
Hamden’s Planning and Zoning Commission already approved the larger of two proposed stadia, the one for women’s soccer and lacrosse. Tonight, the commission will discuss the smaller stadium. It will be for women’s field hockey. The concern is about the impact it will have on neighbors, nature, and the big park across the street.
That park would be Sleeping Giant State Park. It’s hills, woods, and trails are where people go to get away from it all. Folks in the park can get jarred back to reality, however, depending on what’s going on at neighboring Quinnipiac University.
“One woman said, ‘My mother’s in hospice. I came here to get away from everything to just regenerate for a while.'” explained Julie Hulten of the Sleeping Giant Park Association. “She said, ‘I can’t stay because of the sound across the street,’ and that was before the new stadium, obviously, is here.”
Quinnipiac is proposing building two new sports stadia across Mount Carmel Avenue from Sleeping Giant. The space contains fields that are currently being used for games. The school has to build venues for women’s soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey in order to comply with title IX requirement for equal facilities for men’s and women’s sports.
“We believe the improvements we’re proposing to our existing Division I athletics field will not adversely impact local traffic or the environment,” said John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, in a written statement. “The field is already being used by our athletics teams in the spring and fall. We are confident that the design improvements we’ve proposed will make for a better fan experience and mitigate any concerns about noise.”
At last month’s planning and zoning meeting, the university and neighborhood groups each submitted their own studies on sound levels. To no one’s surprise, the competing studies reached different conclusions, each supporting their own side. Tonight, the commission should have the results of a third, independent noise study to see if Sleeping Giant can remain, well, sleepy.
“This has been such a wonderful space in this urbanized area of tranquility and peacefulness and the feeling that you really are a million miles away,” Hulten said.
Another big concern is traffic. If there are games being played at the new stadium, especially on a sunny Saturday when people want to use the park, the fear is there will be parked cars lined up all up and down Mount Carmel Avenue. The proposal also puts some structures too close to natural wetlands for some environmentalists. The University’s position is that these are already athletic fields; it is just improving what is already there.
If you want to make your voice heard, that meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chamber of Hamden’s Memorial Town Hall.