Deal In Place To Build Sports Complex On 112 Acres In Southington

15 October 2016

Firefighter, photographer and sports enthusiast Lee Dibble has secured a contract with the Sepko family to build a sports complex on 112 acres off West Queen and West streets.

The deal essentially locks up the land for future development, conditional upon obtaining all regulatory approvals. Dibble will be the owner and operator of the proposed complex, which was given unanimous informal support by the Planning and Zoning Commission in June 2015.

Dibble said Thursday that he has selected a builder, but will not reveal any names until details are finalized. In addition to covered playing fields, the complex will also have restaurant and retail space.

In 2015, the town spent $40,000 to develop a placeholder site plan to show zoning commission support for the concept and reduce the risk for a private developer. Planning, design and full approval can cost as much as $100,000, according to town officials.

“That the strategy worked is what we are celebrating,” said Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo.

Town councilors were recently made aware that Dibble had worked out a deal with Sepko.

“This was a special undertaking,” said Democratic Town Councilor Dawn Miceli. “Obviously it worked. We’ve been waiting about a year. He’s taking it to the next level and is going to get it done, which is a positive for our community.”

Dibble proposed a sports complex plan in 2002 that was rejected by the town. Carl Verderame, another developer, also submitted plans for a complex on Spring Street, but the deal was tied up in a lengthy probate battle.

Part of the town’s economic development strategy is to make Southington a recreation destination, Perillo said.

“Part of the complexity involved with the project was the size of the parcel being acquired,” Perillo said.

The parcel is split between business and industrial zones, and there are potential topography issues to the east and some wetlands. According to a contract with the Sepko family, the town agreed on an undisclosed price to market the property. The contract also stipulated that the Sepkos will reimburse the town for engineering work if the property is sold through the town’s marketing efforts.

Perillo submitted a plan last June to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a 300-square-foot dome. He said at the time, he wanted to get approval on a maximum-size building to show a developer what is allowed on the site.

“The Town Council was being proactive,” Perillo said “We took a risk to give a potential developer some assurance this could be developed.”

Perillo and other town officials said Friday they did not know the name of the builder or architect Dibble has hired.

“We’re anxiously waiting to see who emerges,” Perillo said.

The increase in hotels along West Street is also attractive to an owner/operator hoping to house tournament players and families, he said.

Several other developers came forward to develop the sports complex, but Miceli said there was always an issue with financing.

Miceli has known Dibble and his family for many years and said he has the expertise to succeed.

“A big piece of the pie was the Sepko property, that took some finesse,” Miceli said. “Obviously, it’s his passion.”


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