Bath council delays vote on turf field

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BATH — The City Council won’t vote until April 17 on construction of an artificial turf field at the Edward J. McMann Outdoor Athletic Complex.

A building committee established at Wednesday’s City Council meeting consists of two councilors, various city staff and two members of the Fields for Our Future committee.

That group, which has been raising money to install the surface, has about $40,000 remaining before it reaches its $580,000 goal, according to Lu Lozano, who chairs the committee with Kay Beveridge.

The council, which was expected to vote Wednesday on the project, opted to postpone its vote because it received the final paperwork from the city solicitor the day before and wanted to give the public enough advance notice before a decision is made.

Proponents of the turf field have said its durability and ability to be used more frequently will create greater opportunities for events and revenue.

The council and residents debated turf field funding in 2010. Fields for Our Future raised $270,000 for the project before the group approached the council about borrowing the remaining funds.

The council voted 5-4 in February 2010 to borrow up to $300,000 for the project, but a successful petition drive sent the matter to a referendum, where voters defeated the borrowing proposal in June 2010.

The council decided in September 2010 to support the turf installation, as long as there was no request for or appropriation of taxpayer funds. An order from that time established a reserve enterprise fund, meant to provide funds for future replacement of the field once it has reached “the end of its useful life.”

Annual revenue of $35,000, earned from field rentals and other McMann Field income, is to go into that account.

Councilor Andrew Winglass on Wednesday lauded Fields for Our Future’s efforts. He said he praised “any group that can raise this kind of money for the citizens of Bath.”

Jackie Dwinal of Washington Street – an outspoken opponent in 2010 of borrowing money for the project, who had been among those gathering petition signatures – also commended the group on Wednesday.

“They’ve done a wonderful job raising the money,” she said.

Fields for Our Future hopes to have the field installed this summer.

Earlier in the meeting, the council recognized former Police Department Lt. Stan Cielinski, who recently became an investigator for Bath Iron Works after working for the city for 24 years.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.