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Irvington Residents Debate Turf Field As Bond Vote Draws Near

A sample of the turf that is proposed for Meszaros Field
A sample of the turf that is proposed for Meszaros Field Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum
Posters on display at the Irvington School District Sept. 29 Field and Facilities Bond Forum Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino

IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Irvington residents are still arguing over the proposed use of a synthetic turf field days before the Tuesday, Oct. 7 vote on funding installation for turf at Meszaros Field.

The Irvington School District held its final forum Monday on the $4.6 million bond proposed for field and facility upgrades. Though residents who spoke at the meeting mostly agreed on the facility renovations, they don't seem to be able to find common ground when it comes to synthetic turf.

“It’s an emotional issue for a lot of us,” said Scools Superintendent Kris Harrison. “I understand people have different opinions. I’m not trying to convince anyone. I’m here to answer the questions.”

The facilities portion of the bond would also do the following:

  • Upgrade Dows Lane Elementary School’s HVAC system, and convert boilers at Main Street School from oil to gas
  • Switch poor lighting at Dows Lane, Main Street, and at the campus gym to LED efficient bulbs
  • Replace rooftops at Main Street School
  • Turn the “dust bowl,” a dusty barren space between the Irvington Middle School and gym used for recess, into a colored asphalt space
  • Create two vestibules at the entrances of the middle school
  • Add a new nurse’s office at Dows Lane that is accessible for those with disabilities, and a new principal’s office near the front entrance of the building
  • Eliminate the temporary mobile units that serve as the district’s offices, and move the offices into Dows Lane

The bond would also pay for drainage and irrigation work at both East and Meszaros fields. The district anticipates that the drainage and irrigation measures would also help mitigate flooding problems for residents in the Fieldpoint section of Irvington. The bonds allows for a new grass surface at East Field, while an artificial turf topped with organic-infill would be installed at Meszaros. Oley Track would be resurfaced with a rubberized track.

The district’s East and Meszaros fields have long experience drainage and overuse issues. The district had previously proposed to fix the fields in two separate bond packages in 2006 and 2008; however, taxpayers defeated both bonds. Irvington Schools began to revisit these issues in August 2012.

Two committees, public meetings and outreach later, the new bond was unanimously approved by the Irvington Board of Education in June.

Since the district is retiring some of its debt service this year, the proposed bond’s tax levy impact would only be $84,163 a year, instead of $399,588 per year for 15 years. This would add about $28 to the annual school tax bill for the average home valued at $700,000, starting in the 2015-16 school year.

The project is also eligible for 24 percent in state aid once it is completed. The field upgrades are only eligible for the aid because the work is being lumped in with facility renovations.

“Knowing the history of the village having two artificial turf fields defeated, it’s antagonistic to come back at us again with artificial turn when there are state of the art companies that install natural grass,” said Linda Leary, who has lived in Irvington for a few decades.

Harrison explained that the district’s research shows that growing a natural grass field wouldn’t be successful since the fields are so heavily used and are only rested during the summer. There were 31 days between March and June where students had to forfeit gym class and sports practices on Meszaros Field, because of the weather’s affect on the field.

Linda Pierpont, a 30-year Irvington resident who founded Irvington Youth Lacrosse, reminded those in attendance that the school district lost two fields when the art facility was built and the middle school campus underwent major renovations. Irvington has also added additional student, who use the fields.

“I’m not really comfortable with buying a new project then trying it out and worrying about the disposal and effect on the environment,” said Elliot, a research chemist and Irvington resident. “I’ve seen situations where with think the product is good, and later it has this problem and it has that problem.”

While some residents are concerned about the safety of using synthetic turf, which some believe contain harmful chemicals, others think their neighbors are overreacting.

“Concern about speculative dangers ignores real present day known health concerns when we don’t support children by providing healthy lifestyle habits including physical activity,” said Michael Hanna.

The last day to register for the vote is Thursday, Oct. 2. More information about the proposed bond and vote can be found at irvingtonschools.org .

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