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Light Rain,39°
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Schools
Dozens demand artificial-turf fields during Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District meeting
Board of Education promises short- and long-term plans
Scott Brinton/Herald
oponents of installing synthetic-turf athletic fields at the Bellmore-Merrick Central School District’s three high schools came to the June 5 Board of Education meeting dressed in red as a show of solidarity. They protested the condition of the high schools’ fields, which have a number of barren patches, like this one at Calhoun High School in Merrick.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District will not install synthetic-turf athletic fields in 2013-14, Marion Blane, the Board of Education president, said at a June 5 meeting. But synthetic-turf fields are under board consideration for subsequent years, she said.

Reading from a prepared statement, Blane cited the cost of new synthetic-turf fields, as well as that of other possible projects, like upgrading science laboratories and renovating bathrooms, as challenges that the district would have to overcome for the projects to become a reality. She said the board would consider several funding options for projects that it identifies as “critical” in the coming weeks and months, including a possible bond proposal.

In the spring of 2007, the Bellmore-Merrick Board of Education first rejected a proposal to add synthetic-turf fields at Calhoun, Kennedy and Mepham high schools, largely due to the cost. At the time, estimates ranged from a low of $800,000 to redo one football field from end zone to end zone to a high of $1.2 million when all fees and contingencies were factored in, including engineering and architectural charges. Those figures did not include interest charges if the district had bonded the project.

If the fields had been included in the 2007-08 Central District budget and the proposal had passed a public vote, property taxes would have risen more than 9 percent that year. Additionally, the cost of disposing of the artificial turf at a certified landfill after its eight- to 10-year life ranged from $175,000 to $200,000 per field.

In 2009, the Central District Board of Education formed a committee of school officials, parents and residents to examine options to repair and maintain all of the district’s fields. The committee offered recommendations to the superintendent, Dr. Henry Kiernan. After nearly a half-year of deliberations, the group recommended a better maintenance regimen rather than synthetic turf, again citing cost as the primary reason.

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