NEW CANAAN — The New Canaan Athletic Foundation has received final approval for an additional $800,000 for the New Canaan High School track and field project.

The Town Council approved in an eight to four vote Sept. 27, the additional funding along with an audit to understand how the $5.8 million project came up short.

“In order to finish it and finish it to a level of economic feasibility, we have to consider additional funds,” said Town Council member Cristina Ross. “I’m a little perplexed a contract was signed and work started to put us in this position, but it’d be a tremendous detriment to the kids and school system to leave this unfinished.”

Leaving the project incomplete would mean six to seven-foot lighting foundations would be left in the fields, leaving the second and third “Water Tower Turf” fields without lighting.

The contract with Leading Design and Development Sports [LDDS] to do the fields was originally budgeted $4.8 million.

“I want to be sure whatever we approve gets the job done,” Ross added. “We have issues here. If we freeze the project, kids will suffer.”

The project now slated to expend $5.8 million, will cost the town for $3.9 million and the New Canaan Athletic Foundation is contributing $1.9 million in privately raised funds.

Much of the support for the project stemmed from concerns for the children, as well as how the fields would benefit the town in the long-term. The NCAF presented a plan to consider using the field as an “enterprise zone” to rent out for other tournaments. New Canaan High School Boys Lacrosse Coach Chip Buzzeo said being able to use the fields for tournaments would take travel burdens off sports teams, as well as draw people to the town.

“In past six years, we’ve spent $350,000 on tournament fees, millions on hotels,” he said “Moreso, we leave town. When you think about the possibility of not just lacrosse tournaments, but soccer, football tournaments, these are New Canaan people finally playing at home and bringing families from other towns to our towns. The basic concept here was sick of traveling we want to play at home.”

The board also agreed going forward that new guidelines need to be put in place for private/public partnerships such as this.

The Board of Finance approved the appropriation at a meeting last month and the funding needs no further votes.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata