McMann Field artificial turf plan goes to June 8 vote in Bath

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BATH — A plan for an artificial turf field that received narrow City Council approval and triggered a petition to overturn that decision will be decided by voters on June 8.

The City Council voted 5-4 on Feb. 3 in favor of borrowing up to $300,000 for installation of artificial turf at McMann Field. Opponents then gathered more than 1,000 signatures to reverse the decision. 

In April the City Council voted unanimously to sustain its February decision, but also to send the bonding question to referendum.

The Fields for Our Future committee, which raised about $270,000 for the project, had asked the City Council to approve borrowing of the remaining funds. Committee member Pat Thomas said in April that voters “deserve a chance to vote” on borrowing the money.

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

While some opponents have been concerned that the Recreation Department will ultimately have to increase its assessment to Regional School Unit 1 to shoulder the bond payments, department Director Steve Balboni has said the assessment will remain the same for this project while the bond is being paid.

He confirmed that the operating assessment – separate from the turf field project and related to school usage of athletic facilities – could increase or decrease. Another school-related project in the future could affect the capital assessment, he said, although the turf field project will not.

Polls will be open at Bath Middle School on June 8 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.