Bath group needs about $172K to install turf field

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BATH — Proponents of an artificial turf field at the Edward J. McMann Outdoor Athletic Complex are about $172,000 short of their fundraising goal.

Kay Beveridge, co-chairwoman with Lu Lozano of Fields for Our Future, said Monday that the committee has raised about $390,000 – nearly 70 percent of its $562,000 objective. The group hopes to secure all funding by spring 2013, so the field can be installed next summer.

Grants and donations from area communities are two means of reaching that goal. The committee recently received $5,000 each from Georgetown, West Bath and Woolwich, as well as $1,000 from Arrowsic. Morse High School’s Class of 1962 also contributed $5,000, Beveridge said.

Fields for Our Future has also held five fundraisers this year, where it has promoted the benefits of artificial turf, Beveridge said. Proponents of the turf field have said its durability and ability to be used more frequently will create more opportunities for events and revenue.

A document Beveridge provided says field availability with turf will increase from 200 to 2,000 hours a year, and the field will be usable 10 months a year, from March through December. The document says turf can be played on when it’s wet, and is now considered safer than grass for players.

Physical education classes will also be able to use the field daily, which would allow more youths to go outside on a regular basis, and spring sports will no longer be delayed three to four weeks due to the grass ?elds having to be completely dry, according to the document.

The only time the surface will not be able to be used is in case of thunder and lightning, Beveridge said.

Advocates also say that with a turf field, McMann can host state championship soccer and field hockey games, allowing local boosters club to raise money for the school district’s athletic programs. Revenue would also be set aside for future field replacement.

Turf fields tend to last between 12 and 17 years, Beveridge said.

The committee has also raised money through the sale of bricks for a walkway being built at McMann. More than 75 bricks bearing the names of donors have been sold, she said.

Turf field funding was debated by the City Council and residents 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 turf field, but a successful petition drive sent the matter to a referendum. Voters defeated the borrowing proposal 1,522 to 861 in June 2010.

The City Council then voted 5-1 that September to support the turf installation, as long as there is no request for or appropriation of taxpayer funds.

Log onto fields4ourfuture.org or facebook.com/fieldsforourfuture for more information. Beveridge can be reached at 443-4984 or kbevo@yahoo.com.

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

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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.