HARTFORD—House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora on Friday led applause from state lawmakers, local officials, and community leaders over an anticipated $430,000 allocation by the State Bond Commission next week for lighting and facility improvements at the Coginchaug Regional High School football field.
“I’m appreciative of the decision from Governor Lamont and commission members to invest in this project, and for the work of district staff and local volunteers who have continued to pursue their vision to complete this great community resource,” said Candelora, who represents the 86th District serving residents of Durham, North Branford, Guilford and East Haven.
The money, slated for approval at the Oct. 6 Commission meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, will cover the installation of field lighting as well as bathroom improvements at the field house. As it stands, the district rents portable lights for certain games and events at the high school field, which is also used by community-based sports groups such as youth football, cheer and soccer.
“Friday night lights are a dream of most high school football players, and the addition of lights at the field will fundamentally change the culture of the sports programs at the Blue Devils facility,” said Anthony J. DeFilio, head varsity coach of Coginchaug/East Hampton/Hale Ray High School football. “The addition of lights will be a positive change for the football program as well as the other teams that use the field. We’re fortunate to have legislators such as Representative Candelora, and others, who understand that investment in student activities will only benefit the community in a positive way.”
Candelora credited the diligence of Regional School District 13 Superintendent Doug Schuch and Finance Director Kim Neubig for exploring funding sources for the project, and for engaging state legislators who serve communities that send students to the district.
“Simply put, this action is a victory for our learners, school district, and entire community. I’m appreciative of the effort from our representatives in Hartford whose advocacy was critical to securing funding to complete this project, and to the many hands locally who drove this forward. It has been a tremendous team effort all around,” Schuch said.
Candelora additionally credited the advocacy work of his legislative colleagues, Sens. Paul Cicarella and Christine Cohen, and Rep. John-Michael Parker.
“Thank you to the Governor for this investment, which will directly benefit our student-athletes and the student body. Also, thanks to the many dedicated stakeholders and volunteers who have moved this project to completion,” Cicarella said.
“This funding is going to change the game for the athletes and fans across Durham and beyond,” Cohen said. “These new lights will allow for lively night games as well as track and tennis enjoyment, and the accessibility features in the bathroom will ensure everyone can enjoy this new development. I’m grateful to Governor Lamont and the Bond Commission for approving these funds and look forward to attending my first night game!”
Supporters of local football say they hope to see the lights installed as soon as possible.
“Having the lights will help us build our football program as well as encourage community support of athletic competitions of all types that take place on the field. The Coginchaug Football Club was pleased to work with Representative Candelora and the delegation on this important project,” said Molly Clark, President of Coginchaug Football Club.
“I’ve been a high school football coach for many years, and I’ve experienced first-hand that special atmosphere that nighttime games deliver, and I’m thrilled that Representative Candelora and the rest of Durham’s legislative delegation secured this funding to give kids this memorable experience more often,” said Rich Murphy, defensive coordinator for Coginchaug/East Hampton/Hale Ray High football.
The State Bond Commission meeting, which starts at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 6, will be held inside Room 1E. The agenda can be viewed here.