Bath turf field bond opponents optimistic after submitting petitions to city

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BATH — Petitioners hoping to overturn a plan to borrow up to $300,000 for an artificial turf field at McMann Field submitted 1,111 signatures to City Clerk Mary White on Feb. 23 – 356 more signatures than required.

If White certifies the 755 necessary signatures and sends the petition to the City Council, the council would then vote whether to repeal the bond ordinance it approved Feb. 3, said Mike Therriault of the city solicitor’s office.

If the council stands by its decision, the bond issue would automatically go to referendum, Therriault said. The council would still have to schedule the referendum, which could possibly take place in June.

The bond ordinance would have gone into effect 21 days after the council’s 5-4 vote, so the petitioners had until Tuesday to submit their signatures.

The bond would be repaid over 10 years at $35,000 annually, including interest, through the Bath’s Parks and Recreation Department account.

The Fields for Our Future committee raised about $270,000 for the project and asked the City Council to approve borrowing of the remaining funds.

“If we could have kept on going, we could have gotten a lot more (signatures),” Jackie Dwinal, one of the petition circulators, said on Wednesday.

Councilor Kyle Rogers, who opposed the bond and gathered signatures, said Monday that “we got out to most of the neighborhoods in town, and people spoke their minds. Some wanted to sign, and some didn’t want to sign, and we just told them it’s not for or against, it’s just to send (the bond question) out to the vote.”

White on Wednesday said she has 20 days from receipt of the signatures to certify the petitions.

Proponents of the turf field say its durability and ability to be used more often will bring more events and revenue. Opponents argue that the project is an unnecessary luxury in the current economic climate.

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.