I read in the Gazette that the (divisive) synthetic field project has quietly progressed in spite of a budget that has struggled along, terminating 54 district employees including 10½ teachers plus raising taxes. This may be the lowest tax increase in a while, but it has the highest mortality rate I can remember.
For me, the issue of “infill” is only part of the challenge of a synthetic field. This type of field is out of date before we begin. Currently, these fields are being removed across the country, from the Pittsburg Steelers to the University of Wisconsin. Synthetic fields are still controversial for health and safety concerns. We are a community that frequently floods in major storms. This project is a missed opportunity for us to naturally and positively affect our storm water management. There are water detention systems that grow grass fields. It was recently presented at the Hommocks Eco-Fair.
Financially, this synthetic field is not supported by a majority of our community. In an aggressive campaign to raise funds, our school public relations office touts that between 4-500 families made contributions. However, there were 4,160 voters in the election that defeated the synthetic fields. This means at most 22% (if both members of a family contributed money) of the voters were willing to contribute. This is nowhere near a majority. And the total cost will be expensive.
At the bond vote, Plan B (no track) cost just under $3 Million. Last fall, the Board’s website said $1.7 Million scaled back to remove lighting, bleachers, parking and storage building/bathrooms. I was also told these items would be paid for solely by the district, without Fields For Kids funds.
The tally of money raised is now $1.35 Million which includes $250,000 of State money! Where is the additional $350,000? Will the extra money come from the Board’s discretionary fund, or from small projects under Operations and Maintenance? What changes have been made or items left out completely?
I believe this Project should be put on hold until the total expense and the options can be fairly reviewed with the public. Or sod the field for $50-60,000. The initial money should be well spent even if it was allocated at the very end of last year. I would rather support an environmentally-responsible grass field and retain our programs and teachers.