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F-M push for turf field hits crucial stretch

Winter has set in again at Fayetteville-Manilus High School. As snow and cold temperatures arrive, the stadium and track, sitting at the front of the school campus, begins a quiet period that, normally, stretches from October to April.

Yet if the efforts of school officials and active community members prove successful, the stadium will remain dormant until Sept. 1, 2011 - the day that a brand-new artificial turf field makes its community debut.

In a project unique to Central New York, F-M has committed itself to the installment of a new all-weather field at the 47-year-old stadium entirely funded through private donations.

To get the complete project done in time for the 2011 fall season, $1.8 million needs to be raised before March 1. To date, the Fayetteville-Manlius Community Sports Facility Association (FMCSFA) has raised more than half the funds, around $1 million.

The desire to bring an artificial turf facility to F-M dates back to the early part of the millennium, when similar facilities were going up around the area, including neighboring school districts like East Syracuse-Minoa and Chittenango.

F-M first proposed a new stadium to be built in the back of the school property (near larger parking lots) in 2004, as part of a $6.5 million capital project. Voters rejected it by a 2-1 margin, just as they did in March 2008 with a $4.7 million proposal.

Brian Sischo, a member of the FMCSFA board, said that voters understood the need to upgrade the facilities, but still used the vote as a protest against what they considered to be high taxes.

After this, both the school district and various community members concluded that they could not get public support again. So for the better part of two years, through a series of meetings, they ironed out a plan to do it themselves - and utilize the current stadium to further save money.

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