The proposal, brought forth by Selectman Nick Williams, was delayed in order to allow for a more fleshed out plan and purpose.
"I want to make sure that people understand it's not the Fields Committee," Williams said. "The primary purpose of the Youth Sports Committee will be to ensure that all youth sports and other sports organizations utilizing town property including, but not limited to athletic fields and gymnasiums, employ the highest and best corporate governance, financial reporting and coaching practices. The Youth Sports Committee will also serve as a liaison between and among the various youth sports organizations, the Board of Selectmen and other town bodies. Above all, the Youth Sports Committee will put the safety and well being of New Canaan youth sports participants first."
The committee itself would serve as an advisory committee making recommendations and would not be able to make decisions concerning the use of the town's fields. That purpose would still belong to the Fields Committee under the Recreation Department.
"If for example a parent has a child in a sport, feels for whatever reason that he or she has been treated badly as a coach, and that the organization has not undertaken to discipline that coach or perhaps even investigate then at least the Youth Sports Committee can serve as an ombudsman role," Williams said. "We certainly wouldn't be doing the disciplining but it would be there as an advisory role."
The youth sports leagues have not been without controversy in New Canaan. First, three football coaches resigned after burning players' third-place trophies in Irwin Park. Shortly afterwards, a former coach filed a lawsuit against the New Canaan Lacrosse Association for gender discrimination.
This committee, if approved, would hope to deter such behavior and issues. According to the selectmen, the proposed members consist of Jim Citron, Ken Gammill, Sally Campbell, Janet Kilbane, Chris Robustelli and Jay Egan.
Selectman Beth Jones believes the role of the committee needs to be more clearly defined in order to ensure it does not step on the toes of the Fields Commitee.
"It certainly does have the capacity to be a huge benefit. I'm just concerned because I don't see the parameters clearly enough defined yet," Jones said. "And maybe they need to define them, but that worries me."
Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bob Rogers was in attendance and he claimed the commission as a whole had not discussed the initiative in public. Williams, on the other hand, said the individual members of the commission were notified of the plans and were involved in discussions as well. Still, the Board of Selectmen tabled the vote and will possibly discuss it once again at its next meeting May 8.
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