The tears in the turf field at Mahopac High School have grown so numerous that district officials recently decided the facility should be temporarily shut down and student athletes scheduled to play games elsewhere.
The school district already has the newly proposed $650,000 in a capital reserve account that cannot be used for purposes other than for capital improvement and repairs to pay for the new turf rug. This means that doing so won’t increase taxpayers’ bills by a dime.
Given the immediate need for replacement, paired with the fact that there is cash on-hand to pay for it, did not give the members of the Board of Education any comfort at a meeting last Thursday, when the fear was expressed several times that district voters might turn down the proposal at the ballot box when they vote on the matter on Tuesday, May 15, as a majority of them did a year ago.
“In the end, we have to get people to vote for it,” board trustee John Malara said. “The worst that could happen to us, is for the vote to go down and the field is shut.”
The meeting began with an outside firm that drew up the proposal last year suggesting that the same proposition be put in front of voters this year; asking for up to $700,000 in capital reserve spending in order to account for any unforeseen contingents costs for the project, which has been estimated to cost $632,000 for a new turf rug and goal posts and for the removal and disposal of the old turf rug.
Itemized expenses for replacement included $5 per square foot for the 80,000 square foot turf rug, totaling $400,000; $1 and change to remove and dispose of the old rug, totaling $100,000; $30,000 for rotating, multi-use goals posts; and the potential to spend an additional $30,000 each for a custom logo woven into the mid-field and a pair of MAHOPACs woven into the end zones.
Present at the Board of Education meeting were Mahopac Sports Association President Roger Garcia and MSA Facilities Coordinator Fred Reger, both of whom expressed concerns about the proposed level of spending and how that might impact voters at the polls.
“We have a fear of scaring people away with a high number,” Garcia said to the school board trustees, adding later, “we want the project to come out right at the best possible price.”
Reger believed that new goal posts and disposal costs potentially could be had for considerably less than was being proposed.
“We spend an amazing amount of time standing on the sidelines and talking to parents and saying, ‘Look, we really have to do this’,” Reger said about the immediate need to replace the field. “We always try…to convince them this is the right thing, but they ask questions and I have to have answers.”
Assistant Superintendent of Business Starr Dinio warned against going to low on the proposal, as there wouldn’t be any monies available to cover contingency expenses from the district’s general operating budget next year if something unplanned and costly were to happen.
“The money is sitting there in that account. And guess what? If we don’t spend the money it’s going to sit there some more,” Dinio said.
Board trustee Michael Sclafani noted that more than $30,000 in contingency expenses was built into the proposal and suggested removing the woven MAHOPACs from the end zones, thus reducing the amount of the proposition to be put up to voters to an amount not to exceed $650,000, down from the originally proposed $700,000.
His colleagues on the Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of asking voters to approve the use of $650,000 from the capital reserve. Garcia and Reger said they would throw their full support behind the proposal.