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Bath turf field advocates hope to rake in donations

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Bath turf field advocates hope to rake in donations

BATH — Area students hope to raise $2,000 toward the installation of artificial turf at McMann Field by raking and bagging leaves on Saturday.

They hope to rake 100 lawns, with a suggested donation of $20 for each average lot, to help the Fields for Our Future Committee meet its fundraising goal of $300,000.

Fields for Our Future Committee member Kate Bussey said Wednesday that her group hopes to raise the money by July 2012.

"We hope the grass-roots approach will raise awareness and interest in (the effort), but we expect that much of the money will come from larger opportunities, such as grants and gifts," she said.

After the Fields for Our Future Committee raised $270,000 for the project, it approached the council about borrowing the remaining funds. The council voted 5-4 in February to borrow up to $300,000 for the turf field, but a successful petition drive pushed the matter to a referendum. Voters defeated the borrowing proposal 1,522 to 861 in June.

While proponents of the turf field have said its durability and ability to be used more frequently would create more opportunities for events and revenue, opponents to borrowing the money countered that the plan is an unnecessary luxury.

Bath Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni has maintained that the borrowing would not impact the city's tax rate, since the project would have been funded through his department’s capital assessment to Regional School Unit 1 and by partnering with sports boosters, plus rental fees and programs.

The City Council voted 5-1 last month to support the turf installation, as long as there would be no request for or appropriation of taxpayer funds. A reserve fund is also to be established to provide funding for the eventual replacement of the turf field.

Fundraising for the initial installation is subject to a five-year sunset provision, when the council will determine whether additional fundraising is appropriate or if the project should end and its donations be returned.

Residents can call Mary Sreden at 443-3535 to schedule raking. They must also provide bags for leaf collection. The rain date is Saturday, Nov. 6.

 

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