Panel backs $1.5M bond for Yarmouth turf field

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YARMOUTH — The committee responsible for studying the feasibility of new turf field at Yarmouth High School is recommending voters approve borrowing $1.5 million for the project.

The Yarmouth Turf Field Advisory Committee, created jointly by the Town Council and School Committee last year to examine the need for improvements to the existing turf field, concluded residents should approve a bond on the Nov. 6 ballot for a complete overhaul of the field.

According to a letter addressed to the public, the committee believes “that the citizens of Yarmouth (should) vote to approve this bond to preserve the Town’s investment in the turf field and assure its continued availability for our students and the members of our community.”

The existing field, which cost the town $1.3 million 12 years ago, is showing signs of significant wear. Although it is still within the area of safe play, town officials have said it could become a safety concern if the field is not replaced.

The new field proposal, approved by the Town Council on Aug. 16, includes new turf, additional shock absorption, a new drainage system and a game management box. To save on costs, the proposal does not include a concession stand, team locker rooms, painting the high school logo at mid-field, additional bleachers and a new lighting system.

David Ray, a School Committee and Turf Advisory Committee member, said the advisory committee took a prudent approach.

“We haven’t picked the Taj Mahal, but it’s not the bottom one either,” he said. “We picked one that wears well … and tried to get the one that is most universally acceptable” for all uses.

The committee believes funds for non-essential items should be raised privately, Ray said.

If the new field is approved by voters, the town will be paying for both fields for at least two years.

The town still owes about $350,000 for the existing field, which is scheduled to be paid off by 2016. Payments on the new field would be deferred until 2015. The field would ideally be paid for by 2022, according to town estimates.

To avoid paying for two fields at once in the future, the advisory committee is setting up a reserve account next year that will draw $50,000 a year from the School Committee’s budget to help pay for the next set of renovations when the time comes, Ray said.

“We’re planning ahead this time, so we won’t have the same situation down the road,” he said. “We won’t be looking to go out for a major bond.”

Although that would only raise about $500,000 in 10 years, Ray said the next set of renovations will likely be less expensive, because the current proposal addresses long-term needs. In the next round, the carpet will likely be the only component that needs replacing, he said.

Construction of the new field would likely not begin until next summer, and is not expected to take more than a few weeks.

Voting on Election Day will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Robert W. Boyd American Veterans Post No. 2, 148 North Road.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.