School Board Punts on Stadium Question

December 19, 2014
by Len Lathrop

While every member of the school board recognized the need for renovations of the Alvirne athletic facilities, there just were too many questions to bring the proposal to the voters at the March elections.

The track and field upgrade would involve the football field, the surrounding track, concession stands, storage facilities and the grandstands.  Huntress Associates, a landscape architecture and land planning company, has been working with the school board and school staff for about four months and recently presented a proposal for the project.

The price tag was $2.2 million, which would have needed a 60 percent vote to pass as is required when projects are bonded, would have added between 11 to 13 cents to the tax rate for 10 years, presented School Business Administrator Karen Burnell.

About 3,000 school district parents were asked in an e-mail survey, “Would you support the creation of a warrant article to renovate the stadium seating, field and track at Alvirne High School?”  Of the 348 respondents, 76 percent responded yes while 24 percent answered no.

Mike Tuesdell, the board’s representative to the field committee who worked to form these options, stated it is a “big pill to swallow” and he would like to see details.  Questions that were only partially answerable from the Huntress document:  what is the life cycle of the artificial playing surface (seems to be 10 years), what are replacement cost at the end of 10 years (maybe $600,000 to $700,000), and would there be a saving in maintenance cost (maybe 20% from current expenditures)?

Questions were posed about the different phasing-in options of the projects, and the cost differential of a grass surface versus the artificial field.

Member Stacy Milboure, after stating that she knows the field renovations are needed, stressed her concern about the school district’s other pressing needs.  What would people say no to?  If one or both the school and the town side of this question went forward “people are overwhelmed by the amount of money.”  Milboure pointed out other needs at the high school, like the band nearly falling off the stage at the recent holiday concerts, as well as not having enough state-of-the-art computers.  She continued “that she understands the field renovation is needed,” and “we need to find other ways to pay for it, like field naming.”

With Megan Pollard excused from the meeting, the vote not to forward the warrant to the ballot was 4-0.