Town of Newtown Parks and Recreation

We’ve really supported the soil’s biology with our soil-first saves you money and the results are far better.

—Carl Samuelson, Park Superintendent, Newtown, Connecticut

Newtown, Connecticut is, in the words of Parks Superintendent Carl Samuelson, “a huge sports town.” That’s no exaggeration. The town of 27,500 residents in the southwestern corner of the state has 42 athletic fields, as well as playgrounds, school  properties, and other recreational facilities.

High Meadow Field, Town of Newtown, CT

A graduate of Rutgers University’s Turf Management School, Samuelson had spent a decade at Candlewood Valley Country Club in New Milford, including seven years as superintendent. But having started a family, he felt it was time for a change. When he heard about the opening at Newtown, he jumped at the chance.

“They had a lot of growth potential, construction potential – something I loved from my golf course work,” he explained. “I’ve been here 10 years now and that construction hasn’t slowed
down.” Currently, the town is building a new multipurpose soccer/lacrosse field and a three-field Little League complex.

About six years into the job, a problem emerged at Newtown High School. “We started to experience an overall decline in the quality of turf,” said Samuelson. “It caused me to go back to the basics and start looking at everything.”

Around that time, Carl Samuelson met Chris Kneale of Tom Irwin. “When I explained the problem to him, he said, ‘Well, let’s take a look at it from a different perspective.’” Kneale began testing soil and water at the high school.

“He was the first one, after all that time, that came back and – instead of looking at just the quality of my water or the quality of my soil – really started looking at the interaction between the two,” said Samuelson. “He found that I had some bicarbonate issues that hadn’t been uncovered in the past.”

Working with Kneale has been a true partnership, and the relationship with Tom Irwin has grown ever since. The Tom Irwin team has been particularly helpful in supporting Carl Samuelson and his staff in managing the costs and complexity of caring for Newtown’s 42 municipal fields spread out over nearly 60 square miles.

For example, Samuelson and Kneale developed a systematic approach to turf management based on field priorities.

“Working with Chris, we came up with a structure where I have my A, B, and C fields,” he said. “My C fields are K through 8 fields that I’m not allowed to apply any pesticides on. My B fields are the mid-level fields where I can apply pesticides but I don’t have irrigation. My A fields have full irrigation and I can apply pesticides. Once we organized our fields into those categories, we were able to develop a clearly-defined plan for each of those criteria.”

This structure has helped Samuelson not only to manage operations better, but also to get the most out of his budget.

High Meadow Field, Town of Newtown, CT

In an era of cost-cutting, Carl Samuelson thinks municipalities on a budget could learn from his experience with Tom Irwin. “I knew through the testing that when I was putting material down, only about 20% of it was being utilized by the plant,” he said. “Most of it was going to waste. We’ve really supported the soil’s biology with our soil-first approach in order to take full advantage of all the products we put down. In the long run, it saves you money and the results are far better.”

Carl welcomes you to contact him if you have any questions about
his experience with Tom Irwin:

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