Bath council sets June referendum on McMann Field artificial turf plan

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously sustained its February decision to borrow money for installation of artificial turf at McMann Field.

But councilors also voted unanimously to schedule a June 8 voter referendum on the decision to borrow up to $300,000 for the project.

The votes was spurred by a petition seeking to overturn the council’s 5-4 decision on Feb. 3 in favor of the turf field bond. Petitioners submitted 1,111 signatures to City Clerk Mary White – 356 more signatures than required. White said on Wednesday that she certified 1,024 names.

Pat Thomas, a member of the Fields for Our Future committee, which raised about $270,000 for the project and asked the City Council to approve borrowing the remaining funds, said he supports sending the question to voters.

“They deserve a chance to vote on it,” he said.

Councilor Andrew Winglass said he thought the council’s February vote was appropriate and that councilors had practiced due diligence and reviewed the turf field proposal extensively prior to voting.

“People expect their councilors to do their homework and to vote accordingly,” he said.

Councilor David Sinclair said his opposition to spending money on the field has been clear from the outset.

“I think it’s great that each of us does our homework,” Sinclair said. “But I think it’s also very telling that the people of the city do their homework and are willing to let us know when they don’t necessarily agree with an action that the council is about to take.”

Councilor Kyle Rogers, who collected signatures for the petition, disagreed that the council had enough time to explore the proposal.

“Usually we workshop spending matters,” he said. “There was not one single workshop called on this. … If we had had the time to workshop it, sit down with the … Fields for Our Future committee, and talk about the facts, things might be a little bit different today.”

Rogers said a forum will be held at City Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, for people to learn more about the field project. The intent is not a debate, he said, but rather a chance to be informed.

Residents can submit questions for panelists at the forum through the City Council link at, by mail or in person at City Hall.

The forum will be videotaped and replayed on Bath Community TV and YouTube.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

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.