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F-M push for turf field hits crucial stretch

As a result of all this deliberation, the FMCSFA was formed early this year, a group composed of more than 25 members, all of them volunteers. Their efforts led to a Sept. 20 school board meeting where, by a 7-1 margin, the board accepted the group's written proposal.

Trish Stegemann, also a member of the FMCSFA board, said that some residents came to that school board meeting convinced that the project involved some sort of school taxes.

"We told them that this is a gift (to the district), not another referendum," said Stegemann. "Once they heard that, they supported it. This is a gift we need. There's no rational reason not to accept it."

Athletic director Rich Roy said that the new field, once in place, would host 450 to 500 school and community events per year, not even counting physical education classes that could utilize the turf from Monday through Friday, when school was in session. Groups such as F-M's youth lacrosse and Pop Warner Football programs would use the field on the weekends.

That, said Roy, is a stark contrast to the current situation, characterized by what took place in 2009. Again in the spring of that year, the boys and girls lacrosse teams were forced to practice in parking lots and gymnasiums well into the season and play "home" games as far away as Central Square.

Then in October of '09, after the Homecoming football game against Henninger in which heavy rains turned the current F-M grass field into mud, no one played on it again until May of this year - a span of seven months. As a result, teams in the fall and spring had to, as in years past, board buses for evening practices on rented-out turf fields elsewhere.

According to the monthly newsletter F-M sent out in November, the district spent an average of $15,000 a year for such bus transportation and venue rental. The newsletter also said the new field would save the district from having to spend $328,000 to repair the current grass field within the stadium.

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