Remember To Vote Today On Amity $945,000 Turf Field Bond

Remember to vote Tuesday, Sept. 24 on the Amity Regional Board of Education’s $945,000 bond request for a new synthetic turf field at the high school.

Sports and school officials have said the current grass field is usually muddy and torn up by Thanksgiving because of drainage issues.{{more}}

Officials said a synthetic turf field will allow not only football, but others sports to be played on the field including lacrosse, soccer and field hockey.

First Selectman James Zeoli said he’s been told “several different numbers” for the field’s cost. He said Orange pays 49 percent of Amity’s budget costs. Bethany and Woodbridge pay the remaining 51 percent.

“If the field needs service after ten years the bond should be no longer than that. I am concerned that this is more want than need,” Zeoli said.

Amity Finance Director Jack Levine said the field costs $900,000 and financing for the bond costs and additional $45,000. The bond is for no more than 20 years, but could be paid off in less years, the finance director said. Interest for the bond is around 3 percent.

Zeoli said it’s unclear exactly the impact the bond will have on taxpayers if approved, though it’s been estimated by others to cost an additional $4 to $7 more per year per household over the life of the bond.

In Orange, he said he is working with the Park and Recreation Commission to clear some land at Wolfe Park for lacrosse and a multi-use field for youth sports, while working within budget constraints.

“I have heard from people both pro and con to this project in Woodbridge and Bethany as well as Orange,” Zeoli said. “They too have similar concerns about costs and projects in their own communities, which serve youth and adults beyond the Amity umbrella as well.”

If residents approve borrowing the funds, the best care scenario is to have the new field in place for the 2014 football season, said William Blake, who is Amity’s school board chairman.

Amity head football coach Bert Mozealous has said the field is great to start the season, but as the number of games increases the grass gets torn up. Amity boys’ soccer coach Michael Marchitto said if the turf field becomes a reality, he’d like to create a Tuesday night showcase, which could attract more fans to games.

Currently, the soccer team plays games in the afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays. He said having a synthetic turf field would also allow his team to practice later. Marchitto said he hopes the turf would include a substance that looks like longer grass.

Amity is in the minority by having a grass field. Several school systems including Milford, Branford, West Haven and Hamden have turf fields. Madison is building a synthetic turf field.

“I am aware of other schools that have these fields, but that in itself is not the reason for Amity to have one. While the household (financial) impact may seem small, what is the total debt service that the residents are already covering, and maybe we should let that amount decline a little before adding more,” Zeoli said.

Talk of adding a synthetic turf field is nothing new. Several years ago a group of parents led fundraising efforts to try and pay for the project. The group did not raise significant money.

Critics of synthetic turf fields have stated there are injury and environmental concerns, but Blake has said those issues are no longer relevant with the newer turf fields