After 15 months of investigating the non-native fill material discovered during routine soil sampling on both Mezaros and East fields, the Irvington Union Free School District (UFSD) hopes to have a plan for both by March.
It is possible that plan will include one, or even two, artificial turf fields.
Superintendent Kristopher Harrison gave the latest update Tuesday, Jan. 7 in a special meeting to bring both the Board of Education (BOE) and public up to speed on the scope of work required for East Field, in addition to possible improvement options for Mezaros Field and district facilities. His presentation mostly honed in on the district’s options for East Field, however, as the other items at hand are expected to receive more attention in the next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
“Tonight is about more than our fields,” Harrison said.
“This is about our district’s future. And figuring out what we can do at East Field is a big part of that. After a lot of testing and conversations with the DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) and the DOH (New York State Department of Health), we feel like we have a very good handle on the situation before us.”
Harrison explained three options for the future of East Field:
- A new natural turf field via no excavation and importing two feet of clean soil for a total cost of $1.47 million.
- A new natural turf field via soil excavation and importing one foot of clean soil for a total cost of $1.04 million.
- The installation of an artificial turf that would cap the existing field and include its own drainage system for a total cost of $1.49 million.
For more details of all three options, see the full Power Point presentation online here.
While all three options have pros and cons, the most obvious difference is when each would be open for use. The two natural grass options would be expected to be ready for the spring 2017. The artificial turf would be ready for fall 2015.
“There are certainly benefits that come with this (the artificial turf) option,” Harrison said.
Of course, there are several factors at play.
Artificial turfs are controversial, as the environmental impact of their installations is usually a polarizing topic of discussion in a community. In fact, Irvington voted against an artificial turf eight years ago, and neighboring school district Hastings-on-Hudson recently shot down such a proposal in October.
Based on resident feedback Tuesday night, the artificial turf option could receive a similar fate in Irvington.
“I strongly suggest that you take the artificial turf option off the table if you want the bond to pass,” resident Ilene Wachs said. “The process would be much less controversial. Otherwise, I think we will revisit history.”
In addition to artificial turf being an option at East Field, it is also one of the possible solutions for Mezaros. Several residents pointed out that Irvington is not a community that would support two turf fields being installed simultaneously.
“The only reason we’re considering putting a turf field at East is because what was found underneath it,” school board member Robert Grados said.
Board member Robyn Kerner stressed that any decision would be a collaborative one between the district and community.
“It’s going to come down to where our priorities fall as a community,” she said. “I agree it’s unlikely there would be support for turf fields at both locations.”
Harrison laid out a timeline moving forward, including the second special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, a Feb. 11 meeting, and additional meetings to explore possible Mezaros Field and facility improvements throughout January and February. If all goes according to plan, the BOE plans to make a final decision on the all-inclusive scope of work to be included in a bond referendum on Mar. 4.
Harrison estimated that an all-inclusive bond would register somewhere around $3.5 million. It is expected that such a bond would be put to a vote in September 2014.